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The mechanisms of regulatory focus: Mindfulness, leader-member exchange, and motivational outcomes

Suzanne Zivnuska (Department of Management, California State University, Chico, California, USA)
K. Michele Kacmar (Department of Management, Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas, USA)
Matthew Valle (Department of Management and Entrepreneurship, Elon University, Elon, North Carolina, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 13 February 2017




The purpose of this paper is to explore the mechanisms underlying prevention-focus and promotion-focus, two distinct dimensions of regulatory focus undertaken to fulfill different goals. The authors explore distinct triggers (mindfulness and leader-member exchange (LMX)) and outcomes (role overload and burnout) of each.


The model is grounded in regulatory focus theory (Higgins, 1997), and is tested with data collected at two times from 206 full-time workers.


Findings revealed mindfulness was positively related to prevention- and promotion-focus, while LMX was positively related to only promotion-focus. Prevention-focus mediated the relationship between mindfulness and role overload and burnout, while promotion-focus mediated the relationship between both mindfulness and LMX and role overload, but not burnout.


This research expands the nomological network describing individual and dyadic antecedents to regulatory focus. It also explores the nature of the relationships between regulatory focus and career management consequences, and may allow us to offer useful advice for practicing managers trying to understand employee career trajectories.



Zivnuska, S., Kacmar, K.M. and Valle, M. (2017), "The mechanisms of regulatory focus: Mindfulness, leader-member exchange, and motivational outcomes", Career Development International, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 37-49.



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