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When do job insecure employees adapt to change?

Kristi N. Lavigne (Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA)
Victoria L. Whitaker (Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA)
Dustin K. Jundt (Department of Psychology, Saint Louis University, St Louis, Missouri, USA)
Mindy K. Shoss (Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, USA)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 27 August 2019

Issue publication date: 20 March 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between job insecurity and adaptive performance (AP), contingent on changes to core work tasks, which we position as a situational cue to employees regarding important work behaviors.

Design/methodology/approach

Employees and their supervisors were invited to participate in the study. Supervisors were asked to provide ratings of employees’ AP and changes to core tasks; employees reported on job insecurity.

Findings

As predicted, changes to core tasks moderated the relationship between job insecurity and AP. Job insecurity was negatively related to AP for those experiencing low levels of change, but was not related to AP for those experiencing high levels of change. Counter to expectations, no main effect of job insecurity was found.

Research limitations/implications

This study employed a fairly small sample of workers from two organizations, which could limit generalizability.

Practical implications

The study identifies changes to core tasks as a boundary condition for the job insecurity–AP relationship. Findings suggest that organizations may not observe deleterious consequences of job insecurity on AP when changes to core tasks are high.

Originality/value

Few researchers have examined boundary conditions of the impact of job insecurity on AP. Furthermore, inconsistent findings regarding the link between job insecurity and AP have emerged. This study fills the gap and expands upon previous research by examining changes to core tasks as a condition under which job insecurity does not pose an issue for AP.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Society for Human Resource Management (Grant No. 175) for their support.

Citation

Lavigne, K.N., Whitaker, V.L., Jundt, D.K. and Shoss, M.K. (2020), "When do job insecure employees adapt to change?", Career Development International, Vol. 25 No. 3, pp. 271-286. https://doi.org/10.1108/CDI-03-2019-0083

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited