The Effect of Job Insecurity on Top Managers’ Work Effort: The Nonlinear Mediating Effect of Willingness to Ally with CEOs and the Moderating Effect of Trust in CEOs

工作不安全感對高管工作努力程度的影響機制研究:與CEO聯盟意願的非線性中介作用及信任的調節作用

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Award date3 Sep 2019

Abstract

As a result of global economic recession and technological developments, job insecurity has emerged as one of the most important issues in the contemporary workplace. In recent decades, job insecurity research has consistently found that job insecurity produces detrimental effects upon the physical and mental health of employees, as well as their attitudes towards their organization. Yet scholars have no consensus on whether job insecurity has a negative or positive effect on behavioral outcomes such as work effort, job performance, and organizational citizenship behavior. In this dissertation, I take work effort as a specific indicator to investigate the behavioral responses that employees display towards job insecurity.

Drawing on interdependence theory, I propose a moderated mediation model to resolve inconsistent findings regarding the relationship between job insecurity and work effort. Specifically, I propose a U-shaped relationship between job insecurity and the willingness of top managers to ally with CEOs. This willingness is expected to mediate the relationship between job insecurity and work effort. Furthermore, the U-shaped relationship between job insecurity and the willingness to ally with the CEO is expected to be moderated by the trust that top managers place in their CEOs. As a result, the indirect effect of job insecurity on work effort mediated via the willingness to ally with CEOs is also expected to be moderated by trust.

The proposed research model was tested in a sample of 285 top managers and 69 CEOs from 69 small- and medium-sized private manufacturing companies in China. The results confirmed that the relationship between job insecurity and the willingness to ally with CEOs was U-shaped, and willingness to ally with CEOs mediated the relationship between job insecurity and work effort. The instantaneous indirect effects test showed that the indirect effect of job insecurity on work effort was significant and negative at low levels of job insecurity, and significant and positive at high levels of job insecurity. The results also found that trust in CEOs moderated the relationship between job insecurity and top managers’ willingness to ally with CEOs, since the U-shaped relationship was only pronounced when trust was low. Trust in CEOs also moderated the indirect effect of job insecurity on work effort. When trust was low, the indirect effect of job insecurity on work effort was significant and negative at low levels of job insecurity, non-significant at moderate levels, and significant and positive at high levels of job insecurity; the indirect effects were not significant in all cases when trust was high.

In addition to identifying practical implications for managers and organizations regarding the mitigation of the negative impacts of job insecurity, this dissertation offers theoretical insights for job insecurity research by: 1) identifying the motivational mechanism through which job insecurity influences work effort; 2) showing that the effects of job insecurity on work effort are nonlinear, providing a more comprehensive explanation for the mixed findings of prior research; 3) testing the moderating role of trust, providing a nuanced understanding of the nonlinear effects of job insecurity; and 4) extending job insecurity research to the upper echelons of the organization.

    Research areas

  • job insecurity, work effort, willingness to ally with CEOs, trust in CEOs, top managers