This paper aims to examine how other-regarding personality traits relate to reciprocity among frontline employees (FLEs).
Other-regarding personality variables were used to model the propensity for reciprocity and actual reciprocal behaviors with coworkers. Surveys of 276 FLEs were examined via structural equations modeling.
Other-regarding personality traits proved to be antecedents of reciprocity. Cynicism was particularly interesting in that it was positively related to reciprocity contrary to findings in other research.
Among the interesting findings relating personality to reciprocity are a more affective type of reciprocity based on empathy and altruism, and a more calculative type based on cynicism related to Machiavellianism.
Managers can use the effects of personality traits on reciprocity and cooperation to hire and place FLEs in ways that provide superior service and increased profits.
This paper indicates that certain individuals who might not typically be thought of as cooperative can in fact reciprocate. Specific ideas about cynicism and Machiavellian reciprocity in FLEs are discussed.
The findings will aid researchers and managers in understanding personality and FLEs cooperation. The findings on cynicism are particularly valuable in that they contradict some earlier research and commonly held managerial ideas.
The authors would like to thank John C. Mowen for his kind assistance with the early conceptual draft of this paper. We also thank the associate editor and three anonymous reviewers who contributed to improving the paper with their insightful comments.
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