Relations of Interpersonal Unfairness with Counterproductive Work Behavior: The Moderating Role of Employee Self-Identity

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interpersonal unfairness, counterproductive work behavior, employee self identity, job demands, employee engagement, industrial organizations

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Purpose: Following the job demands–resources model, this study investigated the role of self-identity, or how employees define themselves in relation to others, in the relations between interpersonal unfairness and counterproductive work behavior (CWB). Self-identity, an important self-regulatory and resource-related variable, was proposed to moderate the unfairness–CWB relations. Methodology: A sample of 361 Chinese airline industry employees completed measures of identity, interpersonal unfairness, and CWB directed at people or the organization. We conducted a series of moderated regression analyses to test the hypotheses. Findings: We found as expected relational identity (identity based on dyadic connection to another person) and collective identity (identity based on membership in a social group) buffered unfairness–CWB relations, such that positive relations were weaker when relational or collective identity was high (vs. low). Support was not found for the proposed moderation effect of individual identity (identity based on uniqueness from others) on unfairness–CWB relations. Supplementary relative weight analyses indicated that multiple identity levels and interactions between them accounted for considerable proportions of explained variance in CWB. Implications: These findings suggest that different levels of employee identity seem to play different roles in the interpersonal unfairness–CWB relations, and it is important to continue studying employee identity profiles in the context of predicting CWB occurrences. Originality/Value: This study not only advances our understanding of potential antecedents of CWB, but also underscores the importance of simultaneously studying all three levels of employee identity.

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Journal of Business and Psychology, v. 28, issue 2, p. 189-202