Fueling the proactivity by emotions "energy": Through understanding the functions of discrete emotions in different social settings = 用情緒"能量"激發主動性行為: 通過理解具體情緒在不同社會情景下的功能

Project title
Fueling the proactivity by emotions "energy": Through understanding the functions of discrete emotions in different social settings = 用情緒"能量"激發主動性行為: 通過理解具體情緒在不同社會情景下的功能
Principal Investigator
Grant Awarding Body
Research Grants Council
Grant Type
Inter-Institutional Development Scheme
Project Code
Amount awarded
Funding Year
Duration of the Project
12 months
Sparked by Pekrun and Frese (1992) and Ashforth and Humphrey (1995), by the beginning of the 21st century, "the affective revolution in organizational behavior" (Barsade, Brief, & Spataro 2003, p. 3) was under way. There is "a shift in emphasis to balance the interest in moods with an interest in discrete emotions" (Brief & Weiss, 2002, p. 298) and "…the focus would be on what is driving each of the processes and the different outcomes resulting from that particular discrete emotion." (Ashkanasy, & Dorris, 2017, p.70; discrete emotion is generally defined as a particular subjective feeling toward a certain target). This revolution goes further beyond the tendency of previous research which classifies moods/emotions as either positive or negative, and/or transforms the early belief that emotions are barriers to rationality at work (e.g. Barsade & Gibson, 2007).

Despite that the emotion studies in organizational behaviour have taken central stage over the past two decades, we still lack of knowledge on how discrete emotions are functional in the workplaces (see, Gooty, Gavin, Ashkanasy, 2009). In 2017, there is special topic forum in Academy of Management Review (Vol. 42, No. 2) to call for "Integrating Emotions and Affect in Theories of Management". In this most recent stepping stone in the "affective revolution", the functional process of discrete emotion, esp. negative ones (e.g. anger, fear), are discussed across different contexts and levels of organizational settings (Ashkanasy, Humphrey, & Huy, 2017). Unquestionably, the significance of researching on discrete emotion functions in organization is timely.

During the past two decades of "affective revolution", human being had been encountering the changing workplace and organisations. The increasing interdependence and uncertainty represent the most critical changes at work and employees are challenged to extend their job responsibilities to face with (Griffini, Neal, & Parker, 2007). Proactive behaviour (proactivity) - self-initiating, future-oriented behaviour adopted to change work situations (Parker, Bindl, & Strauss, 2010) - has become crucial at work. As one of important motivational pathway for proactivity (Parker, et. al, 2010), this emotion "energy" may be even more crucial in such highly interdependent and uncertain work environment, as it serves communicative and social functions (e.g., Keltner & Haidt, 1999). However, the pathway is still relatively less explored with the inconsistent empirical evidences in the proactivity literature (e.g., Den Hartog & Belschak, 2007; Fay, & Sonnentag, 2012).

In the purpose of understanding how discrete emotions can be functional for proactivity at the more and more interdependent and uncertain work environments. We would like to invite the four prestige researchers who are leading figures in the "affective revolution" to look to the future research on discrete emotion, esp. in proactivity. Furthermore, to get more insights and understandings on the emotional functions in other social settings, we would also invite the other six famous researchers in social psychology and educational psychology to deliver seminars/workshop on how discrete emotion would make people more proactive in the various social/interpersonal settings. For example, how moral emotions (e.g. disgust or anger) motivate people to engage in more change initiative, or achievement emotions (e.g. pride or enjoyment) motivate students to be more proactively seek knowledge, which could definitely inspire future research and practices in management. The invited presentations will constitute the basis of chapters for a book on this theme. By publishing the book, this project will have wider and longer impact to generate more insightful research idea and evidence-based practices on functions of discrete emotions in proactivity in various social settings.