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 experiences and the arrangement of their workday activities. In this line of work, I hope to discover how people can achieve both effective performance and personal well-being at work on a daily basis, as well as what challenges they face in doing so.

In a second stream of research, I examine individuals’ proactive behaviors and volitional actions in work settings (e.g., leading informally, learning new things).  In this line of research, I look into how people can go beyond formal requirements and external prescriptions at work and what benefits and/or challenges they encounter in being agentic.

Overall, my research aims to shed light on ways in which we can enhance both work performance and human well-being in organizations, thereby helping people create more rewarding experiences of work and helping organizations better realize their human capital potential.


Current Research

In my ongoing research, I explore a range of issues related to workday design and arrangement, particularly the arrangement of different work and/or non-work activities during the day and the consequences of such arrangement. For example, in one paper I investigate how spending more time in meetings (rather than individual work) on a workday might influence knowedge workers’ energy at work; in another project, I examine ways in which people start their workdays and the outcomes of different start-of-workday approaches.




Zhang, C., Nahrgang, J. D., Ashford, S. J, & DeRue, D. S. (conditionally accepted). The risky side of leadership: Conceptualizing risk perceptions in informal leadership and investigating the effects of their over-time changes in teams. Organization Science.

Hafenbrack, A.C., Cameron, L. D., Spreitzer, G. M., Zhang, C., Noval, L. J., & Shaffakat, S. (forthcoming). Helping people by being in the present: Mindfulness increases prosocial behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

De Stobbeleir, K., Ashford, S.J., & Zhang, C. (2019). Shifting focus: Antecedents and outcomes of proactive feedback seeking from peers. Human Relations. Online First Publication.

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.

Zhang, C., Myers, C.G., & Mayer, D.M. (2018, September). To cope with stress, try learning something new. Harvard Business Review, Digital article.