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Organization and Human Resources Departent's Lecture

TOPIC:     Does Proactive Personality Matter in Leadership Transitions? Effects of Proactive Personality on New Leader Identification and Responses to New Leaders and Their Change Agendas

SPEAKER:Professor Cynthia LEE

TIME:           10:30, 3 July, 2017

PLACE:        Room 1008, Mingde Business Building


Despite the growing frequency of leadership transitions and their significant impact on team and organizational performance, little research has examined why and how teams develop an identification with a new leader or their subsequent receptiveness to the new leader’s change initiatives. Drawing from the contrast and congruence effects and the theoretical perspectives of leader identification, this study empirically tests a model in which the congruence of new leaders’ and their teams’ proactive personalities foster new leader identification, as well as the team’s behavioral responses to the new leader’s change agenda. This effect is strongest when the new leader’s proactive personality is higher than that of the former leader’s proactive personality (positive contrast). Our findings of a four-wave “before-and-after” transition survey of 155 hotel employees and 51 new leaders, achieved through polynomial regression analyses, proved very insightful. Essentially, we found that the congruence between a new leader’s and his/her team’s proactive personalities and the positive contrast between a former leader’s and the new leader’s proactive personalities enhanced new leader identification and the team’s shared identification with the new leader’s change agenda, and, thereby led the team to exhibit more behavioral engagement with, and voice behavior about, the new leader’s change agenda.


Professor Cynthia Lee is Professor of Management and Organizational Development Group Coordinator at Northeastern University. Professor Lee's research interests include leading change and innovation, performance management, understanding the changing nature of employment relationships including psychological contracts and of job insecurity. She serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Psychology and the Journal of Organizational Behavior, where she also works as a special issue co-editor. Professor Lee was awarded Nash Outstanding Doctoral Alumni Award, University of Maryland (Year 2016), and Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology Fellow (Year 2013).