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Perceived overqualification and counterproductive work behavior: testing the mediating role of relative deprivation and the moderating role of ambition

Bert Schreurs (Department of Business, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussel, Belgium)
Melvyn R.W. Hamstra (IESEG School of Management, Lille, France)
I.M. Jawahar (Department of Management and Quantitative Methods, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA)
Jos Akkermans (Department of Management and Organization, Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Article publication date: 10 August 2020

Issue publication date: 10 March 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study was to test the mediating role of relative deprivation in the relationship between perceived overqualification and counterproductive work behavior. In addition to testing this mediation, the authors posited that ambition would interact with perceived overqualification to predict relative deprivation and, through it, counterproductive work behavior.

Design/methodology/approach

Survey data collected from 181 employees were analyzed using the SPSS macro PROCESS to test the proposed moderated mediation model.

Findings

Results indicated that perceived overqualification positively associated with perceptions of relative deprivation, which were, in turn, positively related to counterproductive work behavior. This indirect relationship gained in strength with increasing levels of ambition.

Originality/value

By modeling and measuring relative deprivation, this study offers a direct test of the often-invoked relative deprivation explanation of the implications of perceived overqualification for counterproductive work behavior. The study also shows how ambition can have unintended consequences.

Keywords

Citation

Schreurs, B., Hamstra, M.R.W., Jawahar, I.M. and Akkermans, J. (2020), "Perceived overqualification and counterproductive work behavior: testing the mediating role of relative deprivation and the moderating role of ambition", Personnel Review, Vol. 50 No. 3, pp. 1038-1055. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-05-2019-0237

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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