First Advisor

Donald M. Truxillo

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Applied Psychology






Employee empowerment, Organizational behavior -- Political aspects, Office politics -- Psychological aspects



Physical Description

1 online resource (xii, 238 p.) : ill. (some col.)


An action-orientation within the workplace is often sought out by organizations as a source for competitive advantage. Organizational leaders are increasingly reliant on independently driven employees that will take action without being instructed to do so. Toward this effort, proactive personality has become increasingly popular within the literature as a personality trait associated with an employee's propensity to take charge of situations and demonstrate initiative to make a positive impact. In identifying potential variables that will moderate the effects of proactive personality, a highly relevant construct is empowerment. Proactive personality is thought of as a trait, whereas empowerment can be thought of as the contextual counterpart. In this study, I research both psychological empowerment as an employee interpretation of organizational conditions, such as feelings of self-efficacy, control, and flexibility for action (Arnold, Arad, Rhoades, & Drasgow, 2000) and structural empowerment as the influence of situational workplace context (Kanter, 1977). Despite the theoretical overlap between proactive personality and empowerment, very little has been done to integrate or investigate these variables together to evaluate their relative influences on important outcomes. Given that limited concentration has been focused on boundary conditions of proactive personality, employee political skill is hypothesized as a moderator that will encourage the attainment of important organizational outcomes (i.e., job task performance, job satisfaction) and minimize negative outcomes (i.e., occupational stress and strain) from proactive personality and empowerment. This study is a more complete investigation of proactive personality that not only provides a meaningful theoretical examination, but also informs applied practice. Despite a number of theoretical links between proactive personality and empowerment, the two constructs have been investigated in isolation from one another. Therefore, the relationship between empowerment and political skill is largely unknown. It is unclear whether empowerment and political skill are both necessary to realize optimal results or whether being high on both leads to exponentially better outcomes. This study included 252 nurses from union organizations in Oregon, Florida, and Missouri that registered and were invited to participate (53%). They were surveyed across two points in time, 176 participated at Time 1 and Time 2 and 76 participated in only Time 1. Results did not show support for my hypotheses that improvements would be observed for those high on any two research variables: proactive personality, empowerment, and political skill. However, results consistently support a compensatory model. In general, task performance, perceived effectiveness, and satisfaction with quality of care improved when nurses were high on either proactive personality or empowerment (either structural or psychological). Those high on either proactive personality or political skill had higher levels of task performance and satisfaction with quality of care. Similarly, those high on either structural empowerment or political skill had higher levels of task performance and satisfaction with quality of care. Only when a nurse was low on both variables in the model did they show reduced benefits. Several clear practical solutions are readily apparent based on study results. Given that empowerment can be manipulated within an organizational culture and proactive personality can be integrated with selection systems, the results are important for organizational leaders and organizational development consultants. Similarly, this research adds greatly to the literature on political skill, an area that is relatively new. By examining the moderating influence of political skill, this adds to the theoretical advancement of the three constructs while also informing practitioners regarding potential selection, training, and organizational design. Political skill has been seen as an attribute with the capacity to change over time with training, experience, and mentoring (Ferris, Perrewé, Anthony, & Gilmore, 2000). Therefore, the practical implications for organizations are clearly evident. Further, given that both proactive personality and empowerment have received limited evaluation into their boundary conditions, an evaluation of potential moderators helps advance into the understanding of the processes related to action within the workplace.


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Portland State University. Dept. of Psychology

Persistent Identifier