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 work effectiveness and personal well-being on a day-to-day basis.

In a second stream of research, I examine individuals’ proactive actions in work settings (e.g., leading informally, learning new things).  In this line of research, I look into how people can be agentic and go beyond formal requirements at work and what challenges they face in doing so.

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 a more rewarding experience of work and organizations better realize their potential.


Current Research

In my ongoing research, I explore a range of issues related to workday design, particularly regarding the arrangement of different work activities duringthe day and the implications of such arrangement. For example, in one paper I investigate how spending more time in meetings (rather than individual work) during the workday might influence knowedge workers’ energy at work and their performance; in another ongoing project, I examine the types of tasks with which people start their workday and the outcomes of such choices.



Zhang, C., Nahrgang, J. D., Ashford, S. J., & DeRue, D. S. (2020). The risky side of leadership: Conceptualizing risk perceptions in informal leadership and investigating the effects of their over-time changes in teams. Organization Science. Online First Publication.

Zhang, C., Nahrgang, J. D., Ashford, S. J., & DeRue, D. S. (2020). Why capable people are reluctant to lead. Harvard Business Review. Digital article.

Hafenbrack, A.C., Cameron, L. D., Spreitzer, G. M., Zhang, C., Noval, L. J., & Shaffakat, S. (2020). Helping people by being in the present: Mindfulness increases prosocial behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 159, 21-38.

De Stobbeleir, K., Ashford, S., & Zhang, C. (2020). Shifting focus: Antecedents and outcomes of proactive feedback seeking from peers. Human Relations, 73(3), 303–325.

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). To cope with stress, try learning something new. Harvard Business Review. Digital article.