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Self-Regulation in Work: The Why, Where, and How of Motivation

Ruth Kanfer, Georgia Institute of Technology
Gilad Chen, University of Maryland

The changing nature of work, careers, and the workforce has highlighted the important role that self-regulation plays in many work outcomes, including continuous learning, work engagement, individual and team performance, stress management, and reemployment following organizational layoffs.  This seminar will review the rapidly expanding field of self-regulation in work psychology and discuss implications for human resource management and worker well-being.  Discussion is organized along three lines: (a) what and why individuals self-regulate (content), (b) when and where individuals engage in self-regulation (context), and (c) the mechanisms and processes by which individuals regulate their effort across goals and time (change).  Specific topics include goal generation and self-regulatory systems, self-regulated learning, adult development and self-regulation in an age-diverse workforce, self-regulation in teams, self-regulation for reemployment, and self-regulation over time and across multiple goals. This seminar is designed for researchers and practitioners interested in assessing and developing employee self-regulatory skills, recognizing the influence of different person and situation constraints and affordances on work-related self-regulation, and creating self-regulation friendly workplaces.
This seminar is designed to help participants:
  • Identify the major elements involved in self-regulation and the impact of person attributes, such as age, on goal generation, strategy selection, and goal tenacity
  • Explain the differences between self-regulation of affect, motivation, and action
  • Summarize the relationships between self- and team-level regulation processes
  • Understand the conditions that impede and promote effective self-regulation
  • Examine the impact of different self-regulatory strategies on behavior over time

Ruth Kanfer is a professor of industrial-organizational psychology at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her PhD from Arizona State University, has served on the faculty at the University of Minnesota, and has had visiting appointments at the University of Illinois, Stanford University, Emory University, and the University of Giessen. Her research interests include personality, affective, and task determinants of work motivation, and motivation and self-regulation in the context of complex skill acquisition, job performance, teamwork, cognitive fatigue, workforce aging and adult development, and job search and reemployment. She has published over 95 papers and chapters in psychology, education, and management journals, and is coeditor of three books: Abilities, Motivation, and Methodology (1989), Emotions in the Workplace (2002), and Work Motivation: Past, Present, and Future (2008), and has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Journal of Organizational and Occupational Psychology, Applied Psychology: An International Review, Human Performance, Academy of Management Learning and Education, and Basic and Applied Social Psychology. She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Psychological Sciences (APS), and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), and has served as chair of the Organizational Behavior Division and as elected representative to the board of governors for the Academy of Management (AoM). She has also served scientific and professional governance committees for APA and SIOP. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research, U.S. Office of Naval Research, National Institute on Aging, and the Society for Human Resource Management. She has received the 1989 APA Distinguished Early Career Award, the 2006 SIOP William R. Owens Scholarly Achievement Award, and the 2007 SIOP Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award for her research on work motivation and self-regulation.
Gilad Chen is an associate professor of management and organization at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He received his bachelor degree in psychology from the Pennsylvania State University in 1996 and his doctoral degree in I-O psychology from George Mason University in 2001. Prior to joining the Smith School, he was on the faculty at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Texas A&M University, and a visiting scholar at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Technion, and Tel-Aviv University. His research focuses on work motivation, adaptation, teams, and leadership, with particular interest in understanding the complex interface between individuals and the socio-technical organizational context. He has won several research awards, including the 2007 Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and the 2008 Cummings Scholar Award from the Organizational Behavior Division of the Academy of Management. He has published over 20 articles in such journals as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Personnel Psychology, Organizational Behavior & Human Decision Processes, and Research in Organizational Behavior. He was also the coeditor of a SIOP Frontiers Series book on work motivation, entitled Work Motivation: Past, Present, and Future (2008). He is currently serving as associate editor of the Journal of Applied Psychology, an editorial board member of the Academy of Management Journal, and is an active member of the Academy of Management and the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology.
Coordinator: Russell Johnson, University of South Florida.