Action regulation theory represents a general model of work-related cognition and behavior with implications for a wide range of topics in industrial, work, and organizational psychology. Inspired by Lewin’s field theory, American cybernetic models, and Russian and Polish approaches, German work psychologists initiated the development of action regulation theory in the late 1960s. As the core concept of the theory, action is conceived of as goal-directed behavior that needs to be regulated. Actions are behavioral units oriented toward their own distinct goals, whereas operations (e.g., movement patterns) are subordinate action components. As anticipatory cognitive structures, goals guide the action process, because they function as set points for the interpretation of feedback. Action regulation theory explains the sequential ordering, the hierarchical structuring, and the foci of ...

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