The role of stress appraisal for proactivity and problem-solving: a multi-level approach
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 13:32 by Andrea Eleanor Espedido
Problem-solving demands can have both positive and negative implications for proactive behaviour. I examined whether these inconsistent effects were explained by the way in which people appraised (interpreted) their problem-solving demands. Drawing upon transactional theory, it was hypothesised that the effects of problem-solving demands on a range of proactive behaviours would be mediated by stress appraisal (i.e., challenge, threat, hindrance appraisal) and moderated by factors relevant to problem-solving at the person and team levels. This is a thesis by publication, comprised of four empirical studies. Study 1 used diary study methodology to test relationships at the person and day levels, affirming that stress appraisal mediates the effects of problem-solving demands on a range of proactive behaviours. In light of the recognised role of teams for problem-solving, Studies 2 and 3 explored the impact of team characteristics on the stress appraisal process at the between-person level of analysis. Study 2 focused on the relationship between problem-solving demands and stress appraisal, demonstrating that team problem prevention amplifies the beneficial effects of problem-solving demands on positive (challenge) appraisal. Study 3 instead focused on the relationship between stress appraisal and proactive innovation, demonstrating that the relationship depends on both team problem prevention and leader threat appraisal. Whereas previous research, and Studies 1 and 3, explored stress appraisal as an antecedent of proactivity, Study 4 positions proactivity as an antecedent to stress appraisal, drawing on reinforcement sensitivity to identify moderators of this relationship. Results showed that daily proactive problem prevention behaviours interacted with personality (i.e., behavioural activation) to influence next-day stress appraisal. Collectively, this body of work demonstrates the critical role of stress appraisal at multiple levels of the organisation -- abstract.