The “silent assassin” in your organization? Can job insecurity climate erode the beneficial effect of a high-quality leader-member exchange?

Irina Nikolova (Faculty of Management, Science and Technology, Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands) (KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium and University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK)
Beatrice Van der Heijden (Institute for Management Research, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands) (Open University of the Netherlands, Heerlen, The Netherlands) (Kingston University, London, UK) (Hubei University, Wuhan, China)
Lena Låstad (Department of Psychology, University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden) (University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden)
Guy Notelaers (Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway)

Personnel Review

ISSN: 0048-3486

Publication date: 3 September 2018



The purpose of this paper is to examine the possible role of job insecurity climate as a moderator in the relationship between leader–member exchange (LMX) and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs).


Questionnaire data were collected from 466 employees working in 14 organizations from both the private and public sector. Following the core tenets of social exchange theory and occupational stress theories, the authors argue that ideally job insecurity is studied as a climate-level construct, given the fact that intra-group social exchange processes strongly influence the formation of employee perceptions about specific aspects of their work context (e.g. job insecurity).


In line with one of the hypotheses, multi-level analyses revealed that LMX is significantly and positively related to OCBs. In addition, the authors found support for a negative moderation effect, such that LMX has a less strongly positive relationship with extra-role behaviors that are beneficial to the organization when job insecurity climate is high.


The study contributes to the limited empirical scholarly research on job insecurity climate and its correlates. Management and HR professionals in working organizations are advised to focus on preventive measures (e.g. to invest in the professional development of their employees, that is focus on employability enhancement, in order to reduce job insecurity) as well as on participation-based interventions.



Nikolova, I., Van der Heijden, B., Låstad, L. and Notelaers, G. (2018), "The “silent assassin” in your organization? Can job insecurity climate erode the beneficial effect of a high-quality leader-member exchange?", Personnel Review, Vol. 47 No. 6, pp. 1174-1193.

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