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Proactive behaviors matter for my job! The roles of career decidedness and career stress in face of VUCA

Huong Le (Central Queensland University, Melbourne, Australia)
Joohan Lee (Troy University, Troy, Alabama, USA)
Neena Gopalan (University of Redlands, Redlands, California, USA)
Beatrice Van der Heijden (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (Faculty of Management, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands) (Department of Marketing, Innovation and Organisation, Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium) (Business School, Hubei University, Wuhan, China)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 13 February 2024

Issue publication date: 30 April 2024




Drawing on the conservation of resources theory, this study examines how proactive skill development (PSD) influences job performance and mediating and moderating mechanisms underlying the above relationship.


Data were collected from a sample of 261 full-time workers in three waves, spaced by a six-week interval (Time 1, N = 360; Time 2, N = 320; Time 3, N = 261).


The results confirmed that career stress mediated the relationship between PSD and job performance. Additionally, high career decidedness strengthened this negative relationship between stress and performance. Furthermore, career decidedness significantly moderated the indirect PSD–performance relationship via career stress, accentuating the indirect effect when decidedness is higher.


This study sheds light on the important role of proactive skills development in influencing job performance and what factors can affect this relationship. It offers practical implications by highlighting how targeted training can boost employees' proactivity and performance.



We would like to thank the editor and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, which helped improve our article. An ealier version of this paper was received the Best Paper Award at the 2022 Southern Management Association Conference (#202223).


Le, H., Lee, J., Gopalan, N. and Van der Heijden, B. (2024), "Proactive behaviors matter for my job! The roles of career decidedness and career stress in face of VUCA", Career Development International, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 251-266.



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