Alex’s research focuses on Leadership and Organizational Behavior (OB) and has been published in premier psychology, management, and OB journals such as Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management, OBHDP, and Personnel Psychology. This research generated close to 8,000 citations (including two articles with over 2,200 cites each). Alex is one of the most cited OB scholars of his career age in the world.

Alex has served on the Editorial Boards of Journal of Applied Psychology (contributing editor), Academy of Management Journal, OBHDP, South African Journal of Human Resource Management, Organizational Dynamics, and is also a member of the Advisory Council of Harvard Business Review.

Alex received a Gaumnitz Distinguished Research Award in 2007 (UW-Madison), Mabel Chipman Excellence in Teaching in 2005 (UW-Madison) and Excellence in Teaching Award in 1998 (UC-Irvine).

Research Background

Alex graduated with a PhD degree in Organizational Behavior from University of Nebraska- Lincoln in December of 1996. Fred Luthans was his dissertation chair and John Schaubroeck was an influential advisor. Albert Bandura’s social cognitive theory was the conceptual foundation of this dissertation, and Bandura has been a long-term research collaborator.

Alex’s research examines psychological phenomena relevant to leadership and behavior in organizations through theory development and experimental testing in both laboratory and field settings. Employee self-regulation through confidence, primed goals, and incentive motivators are the focus of this research. Social-cognitive approach to thought and action is its theoretical foundation.

Early Work

Having had an academic advisor with strong scholarly ties to B. F. Skinner and operant conditioning theory, Alex’s initial research focused on examining the differential effects of three reinforcers frequently used at work (financial, feedback, and social recognition) on performance. In addition, having been an economics major in college, studying the effects of reinforcers on work performance seemed like an appropriate (and believable) choice of research topics to pursue. Alex’s early research also pioneered the use of the Hedges and Olkin meta-analytic method in OB research.

Foray into social cognition

The one-sided environmental determinism of operant conditioning left Alex wondering about the role of cognitive processes in regulating organizational behavior. For example, although reinforcers at work have significant effects on performance, having self-doubt about one’s capacities to execute the performance is likely to hinder an employee behavior even toward the most cherished outcomes. Questions regarding the role of cognition in human behavior have been conceptually addressed by social cognitive theory, which has been the conceptual foundation for much of Alex’s research. The theory’s major variable, self-efficacy, has been the focus of several studies Alex conducted. Stajkovic and Lee further pursued this line of inquiry into the realm of collective efficacy research.

Around the turn of the 21st century, Tim Judge had been raising important questions about the role of latent constructs in OB. At that time, Alex was immersed into cognitive research on work motivation, mostly related to an overall idea of confidence having an impact on human action. Influenced by Tim’s work on core-self-evaluations in the personality field, and growing out of his research on self-efficacy, Alex developed a core confidence higher-order construct and offered the beginnings of a related theory in the field of work motivation. Higher-order constructs denote latent commonality influencing the manifest variables and exist at a deeper level of abstraction.

While researching self-efficacy, Alex frequently encountered articles on resilience. A step away would be literature on optimism. The latter two were usually wrapped into the fold of positive psychology, where the variable of hope was also commonly mentioned. The more Alex read this literature, the more he was convinced that these variables may represent observable manifestations of a deeper construct of confidence. On the basis of that idea, Alex wrote a paper that introduced the core-confidence higher-order construct. That paper was presented at the Academy of Management in 2003, it was submitted to Journal of Applied Psychology the same year, and the final article was published in JAP in 2006. His most recent 2015 OBHDP empirically validates the theoretical propositions proposed in his 2006 JAP on core-confidence as a higher order construct.

Developing a theory of dual-process conscious and subconscious self-regulation

One of the open questions in psychology today is the role of the subconscious mind at work. Stajkovic, Locke, and Blair published a first study showing that performance can be affected by both conscious and primed goals. The applicability of primed goals to organizational behavior was discussed in a follow-up review by Latham, Stajkovic, and Locke. Theory developed in this research is that workplace behavior is guided by dual-process conscious and subconscious self-regulation.

Personal Background

Alex was admitted to University of Belgrade in 1984 and enrolled in 1985. In the meantime, he served in the Yugoslav National Army (conscript service) for a year. He served in the Military Police, in the Marine division, in Rijeka, Croatia. In college, Alex studied Economics, and was involved in AIESEC, the largest student-run organization in the world. He was President of AIESEC BG-EF (Belgrade, Economics Faculty) in 1987-1988. He attended AIESEC European-North American Congresses in Norway, Poland, and Italy, and was heading the Yugoslav delegation (for the last time as such) at the latter two. Alex had three internships: a bank in Verona, Italy in 1989, a large public accounting firm in Milan, Italy in 1990, and a bank in Lincoln, NE in 1991.