Chen’s Research

My Research Streams

In the main stream of my research, I investigate issues related to time, energy, and well-being at work, including people’s workday activities and experiences, the influence of social contexts and temporal dynamics, and the implications for downstream work outcomes. In this line of work, I hope to discover how people can achieve both effective performance and personal well-being at work, as well as what challenges they might face in doing so.

In a second stream of research, I adopt an agentic lens and examine individuals’ proactive and discretionary behaviors in work settings, investigating volitional actions that go beyond formal requirements (e.g., leading informally, learning new things), and uncovering the influencing factors and consequences of such actions.

Overall, my research aims to shed light on ways to enhance both human well-being and work performance in organizations, with the hope to help people create more rewarding experiences of work and organizations better realize human capital potential.

 

Current Research

In a recent project (dissertation), I explore ways in which meetings, as a prevalent activity in knowledge work, may create both constraints and opportunities for replenishing workday energy, and the implications for downstream work outcomes. This research reveals that the need to spend time in meetings on a workday (and hence less time available for individual work) can suppress knowledge workers’ engagement in small breaks (e.g., using relaxing activities) for recovery during the workday. However, under certain conditions, a meeting can also provide a compensatory source for workday replenishment (e.g., when a low-pressure meeting serves as a “pseudo break” from high-pressure individual work).

Several of my other ongoing research projects also examine issues along a similar line, including how on-demand workers’ daily time arrangement may influence their physical and psychological well-being, and how knowledge workers’ use of new communication technology (e.g., mobile instant messaging) shapes their daily experiences at work.

Feel free to navigate to the “CV” tab to find out more about my ongoing research.

 

Publications

Zhang, C., Mayer, D. M., & Hwang, E. B. (2018). More is less: Learning but not relaxing buffers deviance under job stressors. Journal of Applied Psychology, 103(2), 123-136. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000264

Zhang, C., Myers, C.G., & Mayer, D.M. (2018, September). To cope with stress, try learning something new. Harvard Business Review, Digital article. https://hbr.org/2018/09/to-cope-with-stress-try-learning-something-new

De Stobbeleir, K., Ashford, S.J., & Zhang, C. (forthcoming). Shifting focus: Antecedents and outcomes of proactive feedback seeking from peers. Human Relations.