Personal control in organizations: A longitudinal investigation with newcomers

Blake Ashforth, Alan M. Saks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Personal control over one's work environment is an important theme in many branches of the social sciences. In the present study, longitudinal field data were used to assess a model of personal control in organizational settings. Business school graduates completed questionnaires prior to graduation and after 4 months (n = 297) and 10 months (n = 231) on the job. The results suggest two distinct responses to perceived personal control. The first implies a proactive orientation where control begets control: self-efficacy was positively associated with control, both variables were positively associated with problem-focused reactance, control and reactance were both negatively related to helplessness, and helplessness was negatively related to work adjustment. The second response to personal control implies a reactive orientation where unmet expectations prompt a sense of futility and withdrawal: control was negatively associated with unmet expectations, and unmet expectations were positively associated with helplessness and negatively associated with work adjustment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-339
Number of pages29
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000


  • Control
  • Helplessness
  • Newcomer adjustment
  • Self-efficacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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