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Work & Stress

An International Journal of Work, Health & Organisations

ISSN: 0267-8373 (Print) 1464-5335 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/twst20

Proactive coping with job insecurity: Is it always


beneficial to well-being?

Barbara Stiglbauer & Bernad Batinic

To cite this article: Barbara Stiglbauer & Bernad Batinic (2015): Proactive coping
with job insecurity: Is it always beneficial to well-being?, Work & Stress, DOI:
10.1080/02678373.2015.1074956

To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2015.1074956

Published online: 04 Sep 2015.

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Download by: [Central Michigan University] Date: 21 September 2015, At: 03:55
WORK & STRESS, 2015
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02678373.2015.1074956

Proactive coping with job insecurity: Is it always beneficial to


well-being?
Barbara Stiglbauer and Bernad Batinic
Department of Education and Psychology, Johannes Kepler University Linz, Altenberger Strasse 49, Linz 4040,
Austria

ABSTRACT ARTICLE HISTORY


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With reference to conservation of resources theory, the authors Received 7 April 2013
explored the role of proactive coping in relation to both positive Revised 9 October 2014
and negative aspects of employee well-being (happiness and Accepted 14 October 2014
depression) when confronted with job insecurity. The authors
KEYWORDS
investigated if coping efficiency improves when employees are Job insecurity; proactive
highly committed to work, that is, when they have a high level of coping; work involvement;
work involvement. Results of tests with samples of 162 Austrian well-being; conservation of
and 444 Taiwanese employees revealed that, overall, proactive resources theory
coping was positively related to employee well-being if the
perception of job insecurity was low. However, in the case of high
job insecurity, the beneficial effect of proactive coping was
present only among employees with high work involvement. The
interaction was significant for feelings of depression in the
Austrian sample and for feelings of happiness in the Taiwanese
sample. The findings suggest that if a person experiences job
insecurity, the efficiency of proactive coping might depend on the
person’s work-related attitudes and beliefs, such as work
involvement, that serve as coping resources.

Introduction
Uncertain working conditions, such as when one’s job is threatened by downsizing or a
merger, are a hallmark of the “new working life” (cf. Allvin, Aronsson, Hagström, Johans-
son, & Lundberg, 2011). This implies that work today is riddled not only with acute or time-
limited stressors (e.g. the day’s workload), but also with chronic stressors (cf. Elliott &
Eisdorfer, 1982) arising from ongoing concerns about the potential occurrence of a stressful
event in the future (e.g. concerns about possible job loss). Chronic stressors force individuals
to permanently engage in coping, and many studies indicate that such stressors (e.g. job
insecurity) have detrimental effects on the individual, the organization, and the union
(e.g. De Witte, 2005; Sverke & Goslinga, 2003). Furthermore, chronic, “future-oriented”
stressors challenge the traditional view of coping, which considers coping mainly as a
process involving efforts to deal with a specific event after it has occurred (Dewe, O’Driscoll,
& Cooper, 2010).
To study how people cope with such chronic future-oriented stressors at work, we there-
fore drew upon the framework of proactive coping, which uses a broader conceptualization

CONTACT Barbara Stiglbauer barbara.stiglbauer@jku.at


© 2015 Taylor & Francis
2 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

of coping. The proactive coping framework considers coping as an ongoing process that
might be initiated before an event, thereby helping people prepare for potentially stressful
events in the future and leading to goal fulfilment and personal growth. It has already
been argued that proactive coping should be beneficial for dealing with future challenges
and uncertainty in the realm of work (Dewe et al., 2010; Reuter & Schwarzer, 2009).
However, so far this claim has barely been tested.
In the present study, we focused on the role of proactive coping for dealing with per-
ceived job insecurity. Specifically, we addressed the questions of whether and under what
conditions proactive coping might have the potential to lessen the negative effects of job
insecurity on employee well-being.
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Job insecurity
Job insecurity perceptions are concerns regarding the “future continuity of the current
job” (De Witte, 2005, p. 1). These concerns may relate to the continued existence of the
job itself, which is referred to as quantitative job insecurity, or to important job features
(e.g. career opportunities), which is referred to as qualitative job insecurity (Hellgren,
Sverke, & Isaksson, 1999). In either case, however, job insecurity is a subjective perception
oriented towards the potential occurrence of job loss in the future.
Consequences of job insecurity perceptions, such as reduced physical health, subjective
well-being (SWB), job satisfaction, or organizational commitment, and increased turnover
intentions or withdrawal behaviours, are well documented in the literature (cf. De Witte,
2005, for a review; Cheng & Chan, 2008, for a meta-analysis). Furthermore, researchers are
continually expanding the list of theories that help to explain how and why job insecurity
is related to all its outcomes (e.g. Sverke, De Witte, Näswall, & Hellgren, 2010), yet knowl-
edge about what can be done to reduce the detrimental effects of job insecurity is still
needed. A number of studies have identified factors that modify the strength of the job
insecurity–outcome relationship. For example, employability (Silla, De Cuyper, Gracia,
Peiró, & De Witte, 2009) and personality characteristics, such as locus of control
(Näswall, Sverke, & Hellgren, 2005) or need for closure (Chirumbolo & Areni, 2010),
have been found to weaken or protect against negative effects of job insecurity. Moreover,
work- and non-work-based social support (Büssing, 1999; Lim, 1996), self-care (Mak &
Mueller, 2000), and perceived job control (Schreurs, Van Emmerik, Notelaers, & De
Witte, 2010) seem to be important resources when coping with job insecurity.
Still, surprisingly few studies on the job insecurity–outcome relationship have explicitly
investigated the role of coping strategies. Cheng, Mauno, and Lee (2014) found that
engaged coping strategies (e.g. accommodation and changing the situation) tended to
buffer well-being indicators from the negative effects of job insecurity, whereas disengaged
coping strategies (e.g. avoidance) rather strengthened the negative effects. Mantler, Mate-
jicek, Matheson, and Anisman (2005) investigated the effect of problem- and emotion-
focused coping on the relationship between employment uncertainty and perceived
stress among employed and unemployed individuals. While problem-focused coping
did not function as a moderator, the use of avoidance coping enhanced stress perceptions
related to employment uncertainty. What is interesting is that these studies considered
coping as a response to the occurrence of job insecurity, thereby taking the traditional
coping perspective (i.e. reactive coping). With the present study, we sought to add a
WORK & STRESS 3

proactive perspective of coping, which also takes into account the ongoing and future-
oriented nature of job insecurity.

Proactive coping
The term “proactivity” refers to anticipatory actions taken to impact oneself or the
environment (cf. Parker, Williams, & Turner, 2006). Thus, proactive coping comprises
actions taken before potentially stressful events occur. Besides proactive coping, other
proactivity constructs have emerged in the literature, such as proactive personality or per-
sonal initiative (Crant, 2000; Thomas, Whitman, & Viswesvaran, 2010). These constructs
share a “focus on agentic self-starting behavior” (Thomas et al., 2010, p. 276) but differ
with regard to their conceptual foci (e.g. coping, personality, or organizational behaviour).
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Aspinwall and Taylor (1997) defined several stages of the proactive coping process:
resource accumulation, recognition of potentially stressful encounters, initial appraisal,
preliminary coping, and use of feedback (see also Greenglass, 2002). What is important
is that the types of cognitive, behavioural, or emotional efforts made within this process
are not necessarily different from those within reactive coping (usually they are
problem focused, e.g. planning or active coping; cf. Carver & Connor-Smith, 2010).
However, they are temporally prior and therefore fulfil a different function: engaging in
proactive coping is meant to help a person prepare for stressful events that might
happen in the future, reduce their severity before they arise (cf. Aspinwall & Taylor,
1997), and create opportunities that help a person reach challenging goals, experience per-
sonal growth, and improve quality of life (cf. Schwarzer & Taubert, 2002). Thus, proactive
coping is conceptualized both as risk management (also referred to as preventive coping,
cf. Schwarzer & Taubert, 2002) and as goal management. What constitutes the major
difference between the two conceptualizations is the type of initial appraisal: risk manage-
ment involves threat appraisal, goal management involves challenge appraisal (cf. Reuter
& Schwarzer, 2009; Sohl & Moyer, 2009).
Like coping in general, proactive coping has been treated as a transactional and dispo-
sitional variable (cf. Bode, de Ridder, Kuijer, & Bensing, 2007). In the present study, we
treated proactive coping as a predisposition to engage in proactive coping, focusing on
the conceptualization of proactive coping as goal management.
Proactive coping has frequently been shown to be beneficial for individuals’ well-being:
it has been related to higher levels of engagement (Gan, Yang, Zhou, & Zhang, 2007) and
more positive affect and well-being (Greenglass & Fiksenbaum, 2009), as well as to lower
levels of depression (Greenglass, Fiksenbaum, & Eaton, 2006). Thus, in general, proactive
coping is expected to have a positive direct relationship to employee well-being. Addition-
ally, it is plausible that proactive coping moderates the job insecurity–strain relation, by
either buffering or enhancing that relation (cf. Bateman & Crant, 1993; Bolino, Valcea,
& Harvey, 2010): on the one side, employees deploying a proactive coping style might
not regard job insecurity as stress inducing but instead see the potential for personal
growth and take initiative. In that case proactive coping will act as a buffer. On the
other side, proactive coping may enhance job insecurity-related strain: Belschak, Den
Hartog, and Fay (2010) noted that “sometimes it may be more efficient to ‘let go’”
(p. 269) than to show initiative, especially if stressors are uncontrollable (e.g. Clarke,
2006) – and uncontrollability is a central characteristic of job insecurity (e.g. Greenhalgh
4 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

& Rosenblatt, 1984). Thus, there is also the chance that proactive coping with job insecur-
ity will result in even more strain. Both stress-enhancing and stress-buffering effects are
also well in line with the perspective of conservation of resources (COR) theory.

COR theory
According to COR theory (Hobfoll, 1998), individuals will experience stress when their
resources are lost or threatened with loss. Resources are objects, conditions, personal
characteristics, or energies that are individually, culturally, or transculturally valued,
such as stable employment, money, status, free time, social support, skills, and sense of
optimism, self-worth, commitment, or involvement. Job insecurity signifies a threat of
loss of the resource of stable employment and its associated benefits (e.g. status and
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social contacts). The threat of resource loss may therefore explain the overall job insecur-
ity–strain relationship (e.g. Selenko & Batinic, 2012). In this respect, it should be noted,
though, that job insecurity, such as changes or transitions, is more ambiguous in terms
of whether it reflects loss than, for example, the actual loss of employment. In other
words, some people might appraise job insecurity as a threat, whereas others would not
(e.g. Staufenbiel & König, 2010). Especially people with a proactive coping style might
not focus on the potential loss associated with job insecurity, but instead might appraise
job insecurity as a positive challenge with the potential for personal growth. Thus, by eli-
citing more favourable appraisals, proactive coping may have the potential to buffer job
insecurity-related strain. On the other side – besides challenge appraisal – proactive
coping involves taking action and thus consuming additional resources, such as free
time or energy (cf. Bolino et al., 2010; Hobfoll, 1998). Put differently, experiencing job
insecurity and deploying a proactive coping style may reflect resource loss in two respects,
therefore causing even more strain. At the same time, however, COR theory also suggests
that individuals must invest resources such as time or energy, and as such should cope
proactively, in order to gain new resources and to compensate for and protect against
resource loss (cf. Hobfoll, 2001; Ito & Brotheridge, 2003). Consequently, proactive
coping may have both beneficial and detrimental effects when confronted with job
insecurity.
Whether proactive coping eventually will be beneficial may depend on a person’s
overall amount of resources. COR theory assumes that individuals who have greater
resources in general “are less vulnerable to resource loss and more capable of orchestrating
resource gain” (Hobfoll, 2001, p. 349) than those with fewer overall resources. This implies
that “not all employees have the same resources to be proactive” (Bolino et al., 2010,
p. 331), and there is already some evidence for this assumption: in a study by de Rijk,
LeBlanc, Schaufeli, and de Jonge (1998), employees who deployed an active coping style
showed a stronger association between job demands and emotional exhaustion when
job control was low but not when job control was high. Parker and Sprigg (1999) reported
similar findings on the job demands–job strain relationship. Employees profited by their
proactive personality only in the case of high and not in the case of low job control. Freedy
and Hobfoll (1994) demonstrated that only when combined with social support, did a
training intervention on coping with chronic environmental stress enhance nurses’ resi-
liency. Furthermore, Chan (2006) showed that high levels of a proactive personality
were adaptive for work outcomes among employees with high situational judgement
WORK & STRESS 5

effectiveness, but maladaptive among employees who lacked those relevant skills. It must
be noted that these studies did not investigate proactive coping but rather other active
coping or proactivity constructs. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that available per-
sonal, social, or situational resources appear pivotal as to whether proactive coping goes
along with positive or negative outcomes within the context of demanding situations
(see also Frese & Fay, 2001). In the present job insecurity study, we took into account a
person’s work involvement as such a possibly crucial resource (cf. Hobfoll, 1998).

Work involvement
Work involvement is a form of work commitment (Cohen, 2003; Hackett, Lapierre, &
Hausdorf, 2001), defined as “the extent to which a person wants to be engaged in
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work” (Warr, Cook, & Wall, 1979, p. 130) and the “normative belief about the value of
work in one’s life” (Kanungo, 1982, p. 342). Thus, work involvement reflects the
general importance of work to a person.
There are several reasons why work involvement is expected to be a crucial personal
resource when coping proactively with job insecurity: first, commitment is one of the
three personality characteristics defining hardiness, which has frequently been shown to
be a resilience factor in the stress process (cf. Kobasa, 1979). This notion is supported
by a study from Stiglbauer, Selenko, Batinic, and Jodlbauer (2012), who found buffering
tendencies of work involvement on the job insecurity–strain relationship (see also Borg
& Braun, 1992). Furthermore, work involvement correlates positively with the Big Five
personality trait conscientiousness (e.g. Diefendorff, Brown, Kamin, & Lord, 2002),
which is regarded as especially important, when coping with stressors requires planning
and persistence (Carver & Connor-Smith, 2010). Thus, work involvement can be con-
sidered a personal resource that supports the likelihood of success of proactive coping,
by ensuring that resource gains exceed resource investment (cf. Hobfoll 1998; Suls,
David, & Harvey, 1996).
Besides being a crucial personal resource, work involvement may also be important in
guiding the proactive coping efforts: a key purpose of proactive coping, as conceptualized
in the present study, is goal management. Thus, high work involvement may represent a
goal towards which proactive coping efforts can be directed. In contrast, with low work
involvement a goal that guides proactive coping efforts might be lacking. In this case, it
is likely that proactive coping will result in aimless resource investment and little resource
gain. Similarly, from the match perspective in job design research (Daniels & de Jonge,
2010) coping efficiency is thought to be highest if a person’s values, attitudes, and cogni-
tions and his or her coping behaviour are consistent within a given framework (cf. O’Brien
& DeLongis, 1996). In other words, if employees do not value work highly (i.e. have low
work involvement), coping proactively with job insecurity may represent a dissonant
behaviour. However, if employees have high levels of work involvement, deploying a
proactive coping style will match with their value of work.
In conclusion, proactive coping is expected to have differential effects on the job inse-
curity–well-being relationship, depending on the level of work involvement a person
holds. Job-insecure employees with high work involvement should benefit from proactive
coping, because their proactive coping is more likely to be successful (i.e. because of their
hardiness/resilience and conscientiousness), and because their proactive coping efforts are
6 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

goal-directed and value-congruent. Job-insecure employees with low work involvement,


however, should suffer from proactive coping. These employees do not have enough
resources for proactive coping to be successful; their proactive coping efforts are dissonant
with their value system and they lack a goal towards which these efforts can be directed.
Finally, it must be noted that high work involvement may not only indicate resilience, but
may imply vulnerability as well (cf. Greenhalgh & Rosenblatt, 1984; Stiglbauer et al., 2012):
The more important a goal or an aspect of life (e.g. work), the more stressful it is for a person
if that goal is threatened or not reached (Thoits, 1991). Therefore, it is likely that job-inse-
cure employees with high work involvement experience more strain as compared with
employees who do not value work that much. This, however, might especially apply to
employees with a passive rather than a proactive coping style: highly committed employees
who cope proactively strive for their goal and therefore at least have a shot at reaching it. In
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contrast, highly committed employees who do not actively strive for their goal also miss the
chance of reaching that goal. Thus, for job-insecure employees with a low proactive coping
style, high work involvement might indeed imply increased vulnerability.

Overview of hypotheses and the present study


To summarize, with the present study we aimed to investigate whether proactive coping
moderates the relationship between job insecurity and subjective well-being and whether
the moderation depends on a person’s level of work involvement. Specifically, the follow-
ing hypotheses were investigated:
Hypothesis 1: Job insecurity will be related to lower levels of SWB.
Hypothesis 2: Proactive coping will be related to higher levels of SWB.
Hypothesis 3: Proactive coping will buffer the relationship between job insecurity and SWB
among employees with high levels of work involvement and enhance the relationship
between job insecurity and SWB among employees with low levels of work involvement.

Although we did not aim to investigate cross-cultural differences, the hypotheses were
tested with participants from different countries in order to increase sample heterogeneity
and generalizability of the findings (cf. Van den Broeck, De Cuyper, De Witte, & Van-
steenkiste, 2010). More specifically, the participants were recruited from Austria and
Taiwan. These two countries differ with regard to their culture, but both score high on
Hofstede’s (2001) cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance; hence, job insecurity
was expected to have similar effects in both samples.
Furthermore, it has been argued that stress processes are best explored through
emotions (cf. Lazarus, 2000), which is why we focused on the affective rather than on
the cognitive component of SWB (life satisfaction). We investigated both positive (feelings
of happiness) and negative affective well-being (feelings of depression), because coping has
been found to have an impact on both positive and negative emotions (Lazarus, 2000).

Method
Participants and procedure
Two samples were surveyed in this study. In each case, participation was anonymous,
voluntary, and not rewarded. The study appeared online as the web-based Work and
WORK & STRESS 7

Well-Being Survey. The survey’s first page provided information about the general nature
of the survey, stating that it was measuring “some general beliefs about work and well-
being”.
Sample 1 was recruited by contacting human resource managers of small- and
medium-sized companies in Austria who distributed the hyperlink to the online survey
via email to the companies’ employees. This recruitment strategy was complemented by
the use of website postings (forums and social network sites). Three hundred twenty-
three Austrian citizens followed the hyperlink to the introduction page of the question-
naire. Of the 241 respondents (74.6%) who actually started to work on the questionnaire,
203 finished the survey. Twenty-nine respondents were not in an employment relation,
and 12 respondents had a large amount of missing data. Therefore, the analyses regarding
Sample 1 are based on a total of n = 162 employees from various professional fields (48.1%
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females) who provided full data in the online questionnaire. Their mean age was 35.1 years
(SD = 10.9; range 20–59). The majority of the participants were well educated (28% uni-
versity degree, 49.4% high school diploma, and 22.2% less than a high school diploma).
About two-thirds were full-time employed (60.5%), 31.5% were part-time employed,
and 8.0% were self-employed or freelancers. The average organizational tenure was 8.1
years (SD = 8.3; range 1–38).
Sample 2 was collected among 510 Taiwanese teachers from primary and junior high
schools. They were recruited by contacting the schools’ headmasters and some teachers
who forwarded the hyperlink to the online survey to the staff. Many participants had
asked for a paper-and-pencil version of the questionnaire, which is why we distributed
such a version in addition to the online questionnaire. Four hundred sixty teachers
responded to the questionnaire (90.2%), and n = 444 respondents (77.5% female) provided
full data. The mean age of the participants was 39.5 years (SD = 8.5; range 24–62); the
average organizational tenure was 10.6 years (SD = 7.8; range 1–38).

Measures
We sought to use measures already available in the German (for Sample 1) and Chinese
(for Sample 2) language. If they were not, items were translated using a forward–backward
translation procedure.

Job insecurity
In both samples, two dimensions of job insecurity were assessed. Quantitative job insecur-
ity (perceived threats to the continuity of the job itself) was measured with the four items
of Borg’s (1992) German Cognitive Job Insecurity Scale that focus exclusively on the like-
lihood of losing one’s job (see also Borg & Elizur, 1992; e.g. “In my opinion, I will keep my
job in the near future”, reverse coded). Qualitative job insecurity (perceived threats to the
continuity of important job features) was measured with four items designed by Hellgren
et al. (1999; e.g. “My future career opportunities in the organization are favourable”,
reverse coded). Responses were indicated on a 7-point scale (1 = agree completely; 7 =
do not agree at all). The internal consistencies were good in both samples, with Cronbach’s
alpha coefficients of αSample1 = .88 and αSample2 = .85 for quantitative job insecurity, and
αSample1 = .81 and αSample2 = .76 for qualitative job insecurity.
8 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

Well-being
Well-being was measured with the Short Depression–Happiness Scale (SDHS; Joseph,
Linley, Harwood, Lewis, & McCollam, 2004). The SDHS comprises three items that
assess the frequency of positive affect (feelings of happiness, e.g. “I felt that life was enjoy-
able”) and three items that assess the frequency of negative affect in the past 7 days (feel-
ings of depression; e.g. “I felt cheerless”). The responses ranged from 1 (never) to 4 (often).
The internal consistency of happiness was αSample1 = .85 and αSample2 = .86; the internal
consistency of depression was αSample1 = .76 and αSample2 = .79.

Proactive coping
Proactive coping was assessed with the Proactive Coping Subscale of the Proactive Coping
Inventory, which conceptualizes proactive coping as goal management. The subscale com-
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prises 17 items in the German version (Schwarzer, Greenglass, & Taubert, 2000) and 14
items in the Chinese version (Gan, Greenglass, & Schwarzer, 2007), respectively, and
has been shown to be a reliable and valid measure of proactive coping (cf. Greenglass
et al., 2006; see also Sohl & Moyer, 2009). Sample items are “I turn obstacles into positive
experiences” or “When I experience a problem I take the initiative in resolving it”. The
response format was a 4-point scale (1 = not at all true; 4 = completely true). The presented
analyses are based on a reduced scale of those 14 (German version) and 11 (Chinese
version) items that showed loadings >.40 in the factor analyses. Cronbach’s alpha
reliability was good in both samples, αSample1 = .86 and αSample2 = .82.

Work involvement
In Sample 1, work involvement was measured with the German six-item Work Involve-
ment Scale developed by Warr et al. (1979; e.g. “The most important things that
happen to me involve work”). Responses ranged from 1 (not true at all) to 7 (very
true). In Sample 2, work involvement was assessed with Kanungo’s (1982) six-item
Work Involvement Scale (e.g. “Work should be considered central to life”). Responses
were scored on a 5-point scale (1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree). Cronbach’s
alpha coefficients were good in both samples, αSample1 = .78 and αSample2 = .81.

Validation study
To test for convergent and discriminant validity of the two work involvement measures
and to provide additional validity information for the proactive coping subscale, we con-
ducted a web-based validation study. The results of that study provide evidence for con-
vergent and discriminant validity of the work involvement scales but also demonstrate that
the two scales cover common but also differing components. As to proactive coping,
results support content- as well as criterion-related validity. Detailed information about
the validation study is provided in the appendix.

Results
The means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations of the variables are shown in
Table 1. In line with our expectations, in both samples quantitative and qualitative job
insecurity were negatively related to feelings of happiness and positively related to feelings
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Table 1. Means, standard deviations, and zero-order correlations between the studied variables.
M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
M – 39.50 10.55 2.17 3.00 3.53 2.20 3.58 3.25
SD – 8.53 7.78 0.81 0.69 0.54 0.62 0.43 0.63
1. Gendera – – – −.03 −.05 −.16* −.15* −.11* −.03 .12* .07
2. Age (years) 35.14 10.88 .22* – .77* −.01 .14* .15* −.12* −.06 .32*
3. Tenure (years) 8.09 8.28 .11 .62* – −.08 .10* .09 −.11* −.05 .24*
4. Quantitative job insecurity 2.78 1.22 −.01 −.14 −.15 – .44* −.21* .20* −.25* −.12*
5. Qualitative job insecurity 3.26 1.50 −.17* −.17* −.04 .50* – −.20* .18* −.35* −.18*
6. Happiness 3.60 0.54 −.04 .05 .13 −.24* −.16* – −.50* .24* .04
7. Depression 2.06 0.63 −.04 .01 −.07 .26* .31* −.58* – −.23* −.20
8. Proactive coping 3.18 0.42 .10 .09 −.01 −.04 −.20* .07 −.20* – .23*
9. Work involvement 5.66 0.98 −.19* .10 .05 −.03 −.03 .20* −.10 .21* –
Note: Sample 1 (n = 162) below the diagonal and Sample 2 (n = 444) above the diagonal.
a
0 = female, 1 = male.
*p < .05.

WORK & STRESS


9
10 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

of depression. Moreover, proactive coping was related to higher levels of happiness (in the
Taiwanese sample), as well as to lower levels of depression (in both samples).
To investigate whether proactive coping and work involvement moderate the job inse-
curity–well-being relationship, we conducted hierarchical linear regression analyses with
well-being as the dependent variable. The two dimensions of job insecurity (quantitative
and qualitative) were entered in the first step (Hypothesis 1) and proactive coping in the
second step (Hypothesis 2). The main effect of work involvement and the two-way inter-
action terms between the two job insecurity dimensions, proactive coping, and work invol-
vement were included in the third step. Finally, in Step 4, the three-way interaction terms
were entered (Hypothesis 3). The analyses were conducted separately for happiness and
depression. All variables were z-standardized, and the interaction terms were calculated
on the basis of these standardized terms (Aiken & West, 1991).
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Overall and in line with previous findings, job insecurity was negatively related to hap-
piness and positively related to depression, in both samples (Step 1). However, in Sample
1, the main effect of qualitative job insecurity on happiness was not significant, and the
main effect of quantitative job insecurity on depression failed to reach significance:
regression of happiness: B = −0.12, SE = 0.09, p = .02 (Sample 1) and B = −0.15, SE =
0.05, p < .01 (Sample 2) for quantitative job insecurity, B = −0.06, SE = 0.09, p = .52
(Sample 1) and B = −0.13, SE = 0.05, p = .01 (Sample 2) for qualitative job insecurity;
regression of depression: B = 0.15, SE = 0.09, p = .09 (Sample 1) and B = 0.15, SE = 0.05,
p < .01 (Sample 2) for quantitative job insecurity, B = 0.23, SE = 0.09, p < .01 (Sample 1)
and B = 0.12, SE = 0.05, p = .02 (Sample 2) for qualitative job insecurity.
Furthermore, proactive coping was related to higher levels of happiness and lower levels
of depression (Step 2). All main effects were significant except for the main effect on hap-
piness in Sample 1: regression of happiness: B = 0.06, SE = 0.08, p = .48 (Sample 1) and B =
0.18, SE = 0.05, p < .01 (Sample 2); regression of depression: B = −0.15, SE = 0.08, p = .05
(Sample 1) and B = −0.18, SE = 0.05, p < .01 (Sample 2). Thus, Hypotheses 1 and 2 were
largely supported by the data.
Finally, Hypotheses 3 assumed a three-way interaction between job insecurity, proac-
tive coping, and work involvement. Step 4 of the hierarchical regression analyses revealed
a significant three-way interaction between quantitative job insecurity, proactive coping,
and work involvement for depression in Sample 1, and for happiness in Sample 2. Includ-
ing gender, age, and tenure as control variables did not change these results. The results of
the hierarchical regression analyses are reported in Table 2.
Figure 1 illustrates the pattern of moderation. Quantitative job insecurity was not sig-
nificantly related to depression or happiness among individuals using low proactive
coping (−1 SD; dashed lines), irrespective of their level of work involvement; simple
slopes for low work involvement (−1 SD): B = −0.06, SE = 0.15, p = .70 (Sample 1) and
B = −0.01, SE = 0.08, p = .95 (Sample 2); simple slopes for high work involvement (+1
SD): B = 0.02, SE = 0.20, p = .94 (Sample 1) and B = −0.11, SE = 0.11, p = .31 (Sample 2).
However, work involvement significantly moderated the relationship between quantitative
job insecurity and well-being among individuals with high levels of proactive coping (+1
SD; solid lines), which was in line with Hypothesis 3: job insecurity significantly increased
depression, B = 0.71, SE = 0.18, p < .01 (Sample 1), or reduced happiness, B = −0.30, SE =
0.09, p < .01 (Sample 2), when work involvement was low (−1 SD) but not when work
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Table 2. Hierarchical regression analyses for happiness and depression.


Sample 1 Sample 2
Happiness Depression Happiness Depression
Predictor B SE p B SE p B SE p B SE p
Step 1
Quantitative job insecurity (quant. JI) −0.21 0.09 .02 0.15 0.08 .08 −0.12 0.05 .02 0.13 0.05 .01
Qualitative job insecurity (qual. JI) 0.00 0.09 .97 0.18 0.09 .04 −0.03 0.05 .55 0.07 0.05 .24
Step 2: Proactive coping (PC) 0.02 0.08 .78 −0.13 0.08 .10 0.24 0.05 <.01 −0.18 0.05 <.01
Step 3
Work involvement (WI) 0.14 0.08 .09 −0.01 0.08 .90 −0.08 0.05 .13 0.06 0.05 .25
Quant. JI × PC −0.16 0.10 .12 0.17 0.10 .08 −0.06 0.05 .20 −0.05 0.05 .35
Qual. JI × PC −0.15 0.10 .16 0.08 0.10 .44 −0.01 0.05 .80 0.05 0.05 .32
Quant. JI × WI 0.15 0.08 .07 −0.17 0.08 .03 0.03 0.05 .49 0.04 0.05 .47
Qual. JI × WI −0.03 0.08 .68 0.16 0.08 .05 0.06 0.05 .19 −0.03 0.05 .54
PC × WI −0.01 0.08 .85 −0.07 0.08 .39 0.09 0.04 .04 −0.01 0.05 .88
Step 4
Quant. JI × PC × WI 0.04 0.11 .70 −0.21 0.11 .05 0.08 0.04 .03 0.01 0.04 .85
Qual. JI × PC × WI 0.00 0.10 .96 0.01 0.09 .95 0.00 0.04 .99 0.01 0.04 .80
ΔR² Step 1 .06 <.01 .11 <.01 .06 <.01 .05 <.01
ΔR² Step 2 .00 .48 .02 .05 .03 <.01 .03 <.01
ΔR² Step 3 .11 <.01 .08 .03 .05 <.01 .01 .78
ΔR²

WORK & STRESS


Step 4 .00 .90 .02 .10 .01 .04 .00 .90

11
12 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC
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Figure 1. Interaction between quantitative job insecurity, proactive coping, and work involvement on
depression (Sample 1; left) and happiness (Sample 2; right).
Note. Solid vs. dashed lines indicate high (+1 SD) vs. low (−1 SD) proactive coping; black vs. grey lines
indicate high (+1 SD) vs. low (−1 SD) work involvement.

involvement was high (+1 SD), B = −0.06, SE = 0.20, p = .76 (Sample 1) and B = −0.07, SE
= 0.09, p = .48 (Sample 2).
Hypothesis 3 was further supported by the results of mean comparisons. In the case of
perceptions of low job insecurity (−1 SD), high (+1 SD) as compared with low (−1 SD)
proactive coping was significantly related to better well-being in general, t(151) = −2.71,
p < .01 (Sample 1) and t(433) = 4.47, p < .01 (Sample 2). However, with perceptions of
high job insecurity (+1 SD), individuals using a proactive coping style (+1 SD) showed
better well-being if they had high work involvement (+1 SD) rather than low work involve-
ment (−1 SD), t(151) = −2.69, p < .01 (Sample 1) and t(433) = 0.08, p = .10 (Sample 2). Work
involvement therefore seems to be an important resource for people who cope proactively
with perceptions of job insecurity (cf. Figure 1, solid lines). On the other hand, individuals
with high job insecurity perceptions (+ 1 SD) and low proactive coping (−1 SD) – by ten-
dency – reported worse well-being, if they had high (+1 SD) as compared with low (−1 SD)
work involvement, t(151) = 0.55, p = .58 (Sample 1), and t(433) = −2.12, p = .03 (Sample 2).
This implies that, if job-insecure individuals do not cope proactively, work involvement
might indeed be associated with increased vulnerability (cf. Figure 1, dashed lines).

Discussion
The number of studies on job insecurity has grown enormously over the last decades. Still,
research on the role of coping strategies for dealing with job insecurity is relatively sparse
and so far has been conducted primarily from a reactive coping perspective. Therefore, the
emphasis of the present job insecurity study was on a broader, future-oriented conceptu-
alization of coping, namely, proactive coping. Results obtained from two different samples
again point to detrimental effects of job insecurity for a person’s subjective well-being: job
insecurity in both samples was associated with less happiness and higher depression
(Hypothesis 1). Overall, quantitative job insecurity tended to be more strongly related
WORK & STRESS 13

to SWB than qualitative job insecurity. This is in line with the results obtained by Hellgren
et al. (1999) and implies that strain related to the threat to important job features seems to
be superimposed by the strain related to the threat to the job itself.
Proactive coping, as expected, was related to higher levels of happiness and less
depression (Hypothesis 2). However, the effect on happiness was not significant in the
Austrian sample (Sample 1). Furthermore and in line with Hypothesis 3, proactive
coping had differential effects on the job insecurity–SWB relationship, depending on a
person’s level of work involvement: whereas high levels of proactive coping buffered the
quantitative job insecurity–SWB relationship among individuals with high work involve-
ment, proactive coping enhanced that relationship among individuals with low work
involvement. Among low proactive individuals no significant relation between job inse-
curity and SWB was found.
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Proactive coping and work involvement


The pattern of moderation was well in line with Hobfoll’s (1998) COR theory. Job inse-
curity signifies a threat to the resource of stable employment, which could explain its
overall negative impact on happiness and positive impact on depression, respectively.
Proactive coping, on the other hand, may compensate for resource loss and may be impor-
tant for gaining new resources but at the same time may consume additional resources
(Bolino et al., 2010; Ito & Brotheridge, 2003). Thus, if perceptions of job insecurity are
high, in order to benefit rather than suffer from proactive coping, having a fair amount
of other resources or having a goal towards which proactive efforts are systematically
directed is important.
The results for both samples show that high proactive coping is superior to low proac-
tive coping, if resources are not threatened with loss (i.e. if job insecurity is low) or if indi-
viduals have a sufficient amount of overall resources (e.g. high work involvement).
Furthermore, the results support our assumption that work involvement contributes to
an individual’s overall amount of resources. This implies that if individuals are experien-
cing high job insecurity, high work involvement enables or facilitates new resource gain or
compensation of resource loss within the proactive coping process. Thus, given high levels
of work involvement, proactive coping may be a powerful strategy for dealing with job
insecurity. In the case of low work involvement, however, overall resources are reduced.
In this case, engaging in proactive coping seems to result in too much additional resource
loss and therefore increases strain, instead.

Cultural differences
Although in general the pattern of moderation was similar in the two samples, a few differ-
ences were obtained and need to be mentioned. The main effects of job insecurity were
similar in the two samples, a result in line with our expectations that might be explained
by the fact that Austria and Taiwan both score high on Hofstede’s cultural dimension of
uncertainty avoidance (i.e. score of 70 in Austria and 69 in Taiwan; Hofstede, 2001). Two
interesting findings, however, are that the main effect of proactive coping was stronger in
the Taiwanese sample and that the interaction effects hold for different SWB indicators,
that is, depression in the Austrian sample and happiness in the Taiwanese sample.
14 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

These findings might be sample specific but they might also be due to cultural differences.
Researchers (e.g. Bagozzi, Wong, & Yi, 1999; Diener, Oishi, & Lucas, 2003) have already
noted that culture moderates the determinants of and the relationship between positive
and negative affective well-being. Thus, although Austria and Taiwan score similarly on
the cultural dimension of uncertainty avoidance, there are other cultural differences
that might have caused these divergent results.
First, Taiwan but not Austria is characterized by a long-term or future-oriented per-
spective (score of 87 vs. 31; Hofstede, 2001). Future-oriented coping is therefore likely
to constitute an even more essential part in the Taiwanese culture. Second, Austria is a
masculine society, whereas Taiwan is considered feminine (score 79 vs. 45). Masculine
societies are driven by competition and performance (“live in order to work”), whereas
in feminine societies it is quality of life that signifies success (“work in order to live”).
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Therefore, especially among Taiwanese employees, the main goal pursued when coping
proactively might be to enhance happiness. In conclusion, long-term orientation and fem-
ininity might explain the stronger association between proactive coping and SWB in the
Taiwanese sample, as well as the divergent findings regarding happiness and depression.
However, although plausible, these explanations are highly speculative and need to be
addressed in future research.

Limitations and implications


Positive versus negative affective well-being
The divergent findings regarding the SWB indicators among the two samples are interest-
ing in two respects. Firstly, they underline the importance of differentiating between posi-
tive and negative affective well-being rather than using a global SWB indicator. Secondly,
they indicate that it might be worthwhile to take into account cultural values when study-
ing coping and job insecurity. We did not investigate cultural values directly, because that
was not the focus of the present study. However, the somewhat divergent results imply
that cross-cultural research is needed that explicitly addresses differences in the underlying
processes related to cultural aspects.

Quantitative versus qualitative job insecurity


So far, most job insecurity research has focused on the quantitative dimension, leaving out
the qualitative aspect. However, the results of the present study suggest that these two
dimensions do not operate in the same way, as the hypothesized three-way interaction
was found only for quantitative job insecurity. More research on the conceptualization
and underlying mechanisms of qualitative as compared with quantitative job insecurity
would therefore be desirable.

Short- versus long-term effects


It should be noted that the moderating effect of proactive coping is likely to change over
time: proactive coping might have adverse effects in the short term (due to consumption of
resources), but beneficial effects in the long term (due to gain of new resources). The
results of the present study are based on a cross-sectional research design, which does
not allow for drawing any conclusions to this effect. Thus, future studies using more
waves of data over a long time period are needed to resolve this issue.
WORK & STRESS 15

Conceptualization and measurement of proactive coping


We investigated proactive coping in a rather general, context-free form, focusing on its
conceptualization as goal management (Schwarzer & Taubert, 2002). Although this is
not necessarily a shortcoming, future research might complement our findings by also
investigating more context-specific or transactional aspects of proactive coping and by
considering both conceptualizations of proactive coping: goal and risk management.
For example, Hu and Gan (2011) noted that goal and risk management might constitute
sequential stages of the proactive coping process: at an early stage, the primary function
might be risk management (i.e. accumulating resources and initiating coping efforts in
order to prevent a potentially stressful encounter). At a later stage, goal management
might be more important (i.e. challenge appraisal of an approaching encounter that
could not have been prevented and initiating efforts to create opportunities for personal
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growth).
Future research might also direct attention to possible jingle-jangles among proactivity
constructs and their measurement. For example, a recent meta-analytic review on the
proactivity constructs, personal initiative, proactive personality, taking charge, and voice
(Tornau & Frese, 2012), demonstrated substantial overlaps between these constructs,
but also differences regarding their relationships with various criterion variables.
Having conducted a separate validation study (see the appendix), we can add some
additional information to this issue. Specifically, the results of the validation study
provide evidence that the proactive coping subscale used in our study covers the stages
of the proactive coping process defined by Aspinwall and Taylor (1997), is a measure of
coping but is not identical with problem-focused coping (e.g. Carver & Connor-Smith,
2010), and assesses “agentic self-starting behavior” (Thomas et al., 2010, p. 276),
without simply mirroring proactive personality or personal initiative. In other words,
proactive coping overlaps with proactive competencies, problem-focused coping, personal
initiative, and proactive personality, but cannot be regarded as identical with these con-
structs. Moreover, the proactive coping subscale was significantly associated with the cri-
terion variable well-being, over and above the other related constructs. In sum, these
results support the notion that the proactive coping subscale – while sharing certain
aspects with related constructs – also covers unique aspects.

Conceptualization and measurement of work involvement


Future research could also discuss in more detail the conceptual issues of work involve-
ment. In the present study, two scales for measuring work involvement were used
(Kanungo, 1982; Warr et al., 1979). The two scales are meant to assess the same construct,
but they seem to focus on different aspects of that construct. This assumption is supported
by the high, but not very high correlation coefficient between the two work involvement
measures obtained in our validation study (rcorrected = .62), as well as by looking at the two
definitions of work involvement and the items of the corresponding measure. For
example, Warr et al. (1979) defined work involvement as “the extent to which a person
wants to be engaged in work” (p. 130, italics added); accordingly, their work involvement
scale includes items that force emotionally based responses. On the other hand, Kanungo
(1982) defined work involvement as the “normative belief about the value of work in one’s
life” (p. 342, italics added); in keeping with this definition, the items in Kanungo’s measure
are more likely to evoke normative responses. Thus, both definitions and measures cover a
16 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

person’s commitment to work in general, but Warr and colleagues’ conceptualization


seems to primarily reflect the affective aspect, whereas Kanungo’s conceptualization con-
stitutes the normative aspect of that commitment.
Research on organizational commitment already distinguishes between an affective,
normative, and continuance form (Meyer & Allen, 1991). The present study points out
that it might be worthwhile to also differentiate the commitment to work in general,
that is, work involvement, in that way (cf. Stiglbauer & Batinic, 2012). In this respect it
should be noted that the correlation between the two work involvement measures (i.e.
affective and normative) in our study was also similar in size to the correlation between
the affective and normative form of organizational commitment obtained in the meta-
analysis by Meyer, Stanely, Herscovitch, and Topolnytsky (2002; ρ = .63, SDρ = .18).
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Conclusions
In conclusion, the present study has many important implications for future research and
practice. It shows that proactive coping might be a powerful strategy for dealing with job inse-
curity. However, it also demonstrates that proactive coping does not have beneficial effects
unconditionally, but rather requires having a good amount of overall resources on hand.
Our results suggest that work involvement may contribute to that amount of overall resources.
And finally, our results also point out that the importance of proactive coping is likely to differ
across cultures and with regard to a person’s positive and negative affective well-being.

Acknowledgements
The authors thank Christian Bachner and Chun Fang for assistance in data collection.

Disclosure statement
No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors.

ORCID
Barbara Stiglbauer http://orcid.org/0000-0001-6827-4049
Bernad Batinic http://orcid.org/0000-0002-8873-6308

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Appendix

To test for convergent and discriminant validity of the two different work involvement measures
(Kanungo, 1982; Warr et al., 1979) and to provide additional validity information for the proactive
coping subscale (Schwarzer et al., 2000), we conducted an additional web-based validation study.

Participants and procedure


The participants of the validation study were N = 336 members of a German online panel estab-
lished by Respondi (www.respondi.com), who were invited via email to fill in the online question-
naire. Of the 328 respondents who completed the questionnaire, 33 had to be excluded because of
missing socio-demographic information or unrealistically short duration times. The final sample
therefore consisted of N = 295 participants (49.7% female; age M = 46.6 years, SD = 13.0). Thirty-
one per cent held a university degree, and 21% had finished high school; 55% were full-time
employed, and 21% reported having a leading position in the company they were working in.

Measures
The questionnaire included eight measures: (1) the work involvement scale by Kanungo (1982;
Cronbach’s α = .78); (2) the work involvement scale by Warr et al. (1979; Cronbach’s α = .84);
(3) the proactive coping subscale (Schwarzer et al., 2000; Cronbach’s α = .86); (4) the Proactive
Competence Scale (Bode et al., 2007; 21 items, e.g. “I am able to translate my wishes into plans”,
“I am able to see the positive sides to failure”; Cronbach’s α = .93), which covers Aspinwall and
Taylor’s (1997) conceptualization of the proactive coping process; (5) a measure of proactive per-
sonality (Bateman & Crant, 1993; six-item version by Parker, 1998; e.g. “If I see something I don’t
like, I fix it”; Cronbach’s α = .89); (6) personal initiative (Frese, Fay, Hilburger, Leng, & Tag, 1997;
seven items, e.g. “I take initiative immediately, even when others don’t”; Cronbach’s α = .88); (7) the
active coping and planning subscales of the COPE Inventory (Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989;
eight items, e.g. “I take direct action to get around the problem”, “I try to come up with a strategy
WORK & STRESS 21

about what to do”; Cronbach’s α = .80); and (8) the WHO-5 Well-Being Index (World Health
Organization, 1998; e.g. “Over the last two weeks I felt calm and relaxed”; Cronbach’s α = .89).

Assumptions and statistical analyses


Work involvement scales
We demonstrate the convergent and discriminant validity of the work involvement scales in the
case of (a) a substantial bivariate correlation coefficient between the two measures and (b) small
hetero-trait correlation coefficients between the two work involvement measures and measures
of the other constructs.
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Proactive coping subscale


First, significant positive relationships (but with r < 1) between the proactive coping subscale and
(a) the Proactive Competence Scale, (b) the COPE subscales, as well as (c) the proactive personality
and personal initiative scales will demonstrate that the proactive coping subscale (a) covers the
stages of the proactive coping process defined by Aspinwall and Taylor (1997), (b) is a measure
of coping but not identical with problem-focused coping (e.g. Carver & Connor-Smith, 2010: proac-
tive coping is usually problem focused, but these problem-focused efforts are temporally prior and
fulfil different functions), and (c) assesses “agentic self-starting behaviour”, without simply mirror-
ing proactive personality or personal initiative.
Second, to test if the items of these scales assess different constructs, three separate models using
confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) were specified: in Model 1, the items of the measures for proac-
tive coping, proactive competencies, problem-focused coping, personal initiative, and proactive
personality are all loaded on one single factor. If this model provides a good fit to the data, it
can be concluded that the scales all cover the same construct. Model 2 included three separate
latent factors that were allowed to co-vary: proactive competencies, problem-focused coping, and
“proactivity” (loading on the items of the proactive coping, personal initiative, and proactive per-
sonality measures). A good fit of Model 2 will suggest the measures for proactive coping, personal
initiative, and proactive personality assess the same underlying “proactivity” construct, which is dis-
tinct from proactive competencies and problem-focused coping. Finally, Model 3 included all
measures as separate factors. A good fit of Model 3 will support our assumption that proactive
coping (as measured in our study) can be regarded as distinct from the other related constructs.
Due to the quantity of variables (particularly, relative to the comparatively small sample size),
item parcels were used to specify the latent factors. For proactive competencies and problem-
focused coping, the corresponding subscales of the measure (i.e. subscales goal setting, feedback,
appraisal, and resources for proactive competencies; active coping and planning for problem-
focused coping) were used to create the parcels. For the remaining measures, parcels were
created following the item-to-construct balance technique as suggested by Little, Cunningham,
Shahar, and Widaman (2002): four parcels for proactive coping, two parcels for personal initiative,
and two parcels for proactive personality. Model fit was evaluated using the χ² goodness-of-fit stat-
istics and Akaike information criterion (AIC), as well as a combination of the Comparative Fit
Index (CFI), the Tucker–Lewis Index (TLI), and the root-mean-square error of approximation
(RMSEA). In accordance with conventional standards (Hu & Bentler, 1999; Schermelleh-Engel,
Moosbrugger, & Müller, 2003), we considered CFI > .95, TLI > .90, and RMSEA < .06, as well as
smaller values of AIC as indicating good fit.
Finally, to demonstrate criterion validity of the proactive coping subscale, we conducted a
regression analysis with the WHO-5 Well-being Index (World Health Organization, 1998) as the
dependent variable and the proactive coping subscale as the predictor variable. The relation
between the proactive coping subscale and well-being should remain significant after controlling
for the other related constructs (i.e. increment validity).
22 B. STIGLBAUER AND B. BATINIC

Results and discussion


Work involvement scales
We obtained an uncorrected bivariate correlation coefficient of r = .50, p < .01, between the two
work involvement scales. Applying a correction for attenuation due to measurement error by
means of the formula rcorrected = rxy/sqrt(rxx*rxy) revealed a correlation coefficient of rcorrected
= .62 (e.g. Muchinsky, 1996). Moreover, both scales showed similar patterns of correlations with
the other constructs, and all hetero-trait correlation coefficients were considerably smaller in size
(r = .21) than the mono-trait hetero-method correlation coefficient.
The high, but not very high correlation coefficient of the two work involvement scales may indi-
cate that the two scales share the same underlying construct but focus on different aspects. Looking
at the definitions and measurements of work involvement, it seems as if Warr et al.’s (1979) con-
ceptualization primarily reflects the affective aspect of work involvement, whereas Kanungo’s
(1982) conceptualization constitutes the normative aspect. Thus, although both scales seem to
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measure the commitment to work in general, they differ with regard to the form of commitment
they address (affective versus normative).

Proactive coping subscale


The proactive coping subscale, by definition, should be related to (a) the proactive coping process
conceptualized by Aspinwall and Taylor (1997; i.e. Proactive Competence Scale), as well as (b)
problem-focused coping efforts (especially active coping and planning; i.e. COPE) and (c) other
proactivity constructs (e.g. personal initiative or proactive personality). These expected relations
were supported by the results, providing evidence for content validity of the proactive coping sub-
scale: the Proactive Competence Scale was significantly related to the proactive coping subscale,
β = .54, p < .01, R² = .29. The COPE subscales explained ΔR² = .12 of additional variance of the
proactive coping subscale, β = .40, p < .01; and ΔR² = .13 of additional variance was explained by
the proactive personality, β = .24, p < .01 and personal initiative scale, β = .30, p < .01. In total,
these four measures accounted for R² = .53 of variance of the proactive coping subscale, providing
evidence for the content validity of the proactive coping measure. Furthermore, these results also
support the notion that the proactive coping subscale – while sharing certain aspects with other
constructs – also covers unique aspects.
The assumption that proactive coping can be regarded as a distinct construct was further sup-
ported by the results of CFAs. Model 3 (one factor for each measure) provides a very good and also
the best fit to the data, χ² = 135.27, df = 67, p < .01, χ²/df = 2.02, AIC = 239.27, CFI = .98, TLI = .97,
RMSEA = .06, as compared with Model 1 (one factor), χ² = 675.70, df = 77, p < .01, χ²/df = 8.78, AIC
= 759.70, CFI = .79, TLI = .75, RMSEA = .16 and Model 2 (three factors), χ² = 353.51.27, df = 74,
p < .01, χ²/df = 4.78, AIC = 443.51, CFI = .90, TLI = .88, RMSEA = .11. Modification indices of
Model 3 revealed that model fit could be improved further only by adding the following two
paths: the loading of the latent factor “proactive coping” on the goal-setting parcel, and the
loading of the latent factor “proactive competencies” on one of the item parcels of proactive
coping, χ² = 103.59, df = 65, p = .01, χ²/df = 1.59, AIC = 211.59, CFI = .99, TLI = .98, RMSEA = .05.
Overall, the results show that proactive coping as measured in our study represents a distinct
construct.
Criterion-related validity of the proactive coping subscale was supported by the results of a mul-
tiple regression analysis: the proactive coping subscale was significantly related to the WHO-5
Well-being Index, β = .38, p < .01, over and above the other related measures. Thus, the main
effect of proactive coping on well-being remained significant, β = .23, p < .01, after controlling
for related constructs. In this respect, it should also be noted that the bivariate correlation coeffi-
cient with the WHO-5 Well-Being Index was stronger for the proactive coping subscale, r = .38,
than for the COPE subscales, r = .23.
Altogether, we believe that the results of our validation study support the notion that the proac-
tive coping subscale is a valid operationalization of the proactive coping construct as conceptualized
in our study.