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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
Volume (Issue) 19(1)
Page(s) 18 - 31
Title of proceedings Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
DOI 10.1037/a0034929


This study examined how achievement goals interact with autonomy to explain mastery of a challenging career transition. In a sample of women who were returning from maternity leave, we examined how autonomy interacted with achievement goals to explain two types of outcomes: effective functioning (i.e., self-rated work adjustment, coworker-rated work adjustment, and coworker-rated learning competence) and well-being at work (i.e., positive affect and life satisfaction). In a longitudinal design (249 employees), we found that achievement goals and autonomy had direct effects on successful return to work. Moreover, maladaptive motivational states hindered the effective use of workplace resources: Autonomy moderated the consequences associated with performance-prove and -avoidance goals. Among those who adopted performance-prove goals, autonomy improved work adjustment and learning. However, women who adopted performance-avoidance goals experienced a trade-off between effective functioning and well-being, when equipped with high autonomy.