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Perceived organizational support and performance: Relationships across levels of organizational cynicism

Zinta S. Byrne (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)
Wayne A. Hochwarter (Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 18 January 2008




Perceived organizational support is considered a resource capable of positively influencing performance by reducing stressors and encouraging commitment. However, only a modest relationship has been shown between support and performance, suggesting that moderators affect this relationship. To date, no research has examined moderators that might serve to predict non‐linear support‐performance relational forms. The purpose of this research is to examine how cynicism moderates the relationship between support and performance in a non‐linear form.


In study 1, 256 full‐time employees from a variety of industries and jobs completed surveys. In study 2, 143 full‐time state employees participated.


Those reporting high cynicism actually construe levels of support negatively. Specifically, performance for cynics was highest when perceived support was at moderate levels only. Conversely, performance for cynics was lowest when perceived support was either high or low.

Research limitations/implications

A limitation of our studies was the use of survey methodology for data collection. Tests of multicollinearity suggest, however, that this did not result in method bias. Future research should consider other potential non‐linear relationships with organizational support to determine when support is not perceived favorably. Additionally, it may be informative to expand the scope of research on cynicism to include sources (e.g. decision makers, legal system) and an examination of the creation of cynical climates (e.g. frequent layoffs).

Practical implications

Recognizing that not all employees (specifically those who are cynical) will perceive support efforts as positive, managers can limit potential negative reactions to support efforts by clarifying their intentions and those of the organization. An increased awareness of possible aversive reactions to what is intended to be supportive, allows managers to better understand and react to cynical employees' behavior.


This study is a first to examine the non‐linear relationship between organizational support and performance as moderated by employee cynicism.



Byrne, Z.S. and Hochwarter, W.A. (2008), "Perceived organizational support and performance: Relationships across levels of organizational cynicism", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 23 No. 1, pp. 54-72.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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