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Better together: member proactivity is better for team performance when aligned with conscientiousness


Academy of Management Discoveries


Organisational Behaviour

Authors / Editors

Emich K;Lu L;Ferguson A J;Peterson R S;Martin S;McLean E;Woodruff T;McCourt M


Publication Year



Proactivity, the tendency to create change in the work environment, typically improves team performance. This relationship is far from perfect, however. We explore inconsistencies in the team proactivity literature to shed light on an important question – when is member proactivity beneficial or dysfunctional for teams? First, we consider the composition of member proactivity at the team level and whether a simple ‘more is better’ heuristic neglects a more complex relationship linking member proactivity to team coordination and performance. Second, we explore whether proactivity is better when aligned with another individual difference focused on the propensity to plan and coordinate with others (i.e., conscientiousness). In two studies, we compare traditional additive and configurational compositional approaches to these two attributes with a new attribute alignment approach, allowing us to examine the co-occurrence of proactivity and conscientiousness within some team members relative to others. First, we find that team member proactivity-conscientiousness alignment (P-C alignment) predicts the performance of MBA consulting teams better than the other team composition models we considered. Then, we replicate this finding in a laboratory simulation, finding that it occurs because P-C alignment improves team coordination. Our results demonstrate that member proactivity is most effective for the team when it aligns with conscientiousness.

Available on ECCH


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