Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Bryan Fuller


Over the past decade, motivation research has focused on what motivates employees to engage in behaviors that fall outside of ones' job/task requirements and bring about meaningful change in the organization's environment, proactive behaviors (Bateman & Crant, 1993; Crant, 2000). Recently, regulatory focus theory has received considerable research attention because of its potential to explain additional variance in behavior beyond other motivational constructs. Regulatory focus theory suggests that during goal striving, people will display behaviors associated with their current motivational state. Drawing from prior research examining motivation and behavior, I propose and test a model that examines the effects of employee work regulatory focus on proactive behavior. The hypothesized model focuses on individual and contextual factors which influence work regulatory focus. Further, given empirical findings of prior research on regulatory fit (e.g., Righetti, Finkenauer, & Rusbult, 2011; Spiegel, Grant-Pillow, & Higgins, 2004), I examine the moderating effect of two forms of fit (interpersonal and intrapersonal) on the relationship between work regulatory focus and proactive behavior.

Findings indicate regulatory focus theory is useful in predicting workplace behavior. Positive relationships were found between subordinate work promotion focus and proactive person-environment fit behavior and proactive strategic behavior while controlling for proactive personality. Findings suggest that regulatory focus theory provides incremental understanding of the motivational processes that underlie proactive behavior beyond that of core proactive motivation constructs (e.g., proactive personality).

Further, this study explored the moderating roles of supervisor proactive personality and supervisor work regulatory focus on the relationship between regulatory focus and work behavior. Supervisor proactive personality was found to moderate the relationship between subordinate proactive personality and subordinate work promotion focus. This suggests that proactive personality shapes employee cognitive motivational states. No support was found to suggest that supervisor work regulatory focus has a moderating effect on subordinate work regulatory focus.

In support of interpersonal regulatory fit theory, results indicate that interpersonal promotion fit predicts both types of proactive work behavior. This finding supports the idea that regulatory fit, in this case interpersonal promotion fit, leads subordinates to experience positive affective states such as "feeling right" (Cesario, Grant, & Higgins, 2004) and should result in elevated levels of proactive behavior.