A considerable body of research supports the link between Machiavellianism and antisocial forms of behavior at work. Yet, meta-analytic findings and existing theory allude to a more complex story, whereby Machiavellian employees’ engagement in antisocial acts is likely to be simultaneously influenced by countervailing situational forces. To promote more nuanced, contextualized knowledge of high Machs’ antisocial tendencies at work, we developed and tested a social context model that describes how multiple situational factors may, at once, provoke and constrain the tendency of such individuals to engage in one notable form of antisocial behavior at work: social undermining. Specifically, we argue that Machiavellian employees likely experience competing motivations to undermine their colleagues as a result of two countervailing situational factors that are relevant to their self-interests: anticipated organizational change and perceptions of coworkers’ exchange quality. To develop our predictions, we draw on trait activation theory’s core assertion that employees’ behavior is multiply determined, such that trait–behavior relations stem from a complex interplay among diverse and potentially competing trait-relevant situational cues. The results of a three-wave, time-lagged survey supported our predictions that anticipated change would strengthen the positive relation between Machiavellianism and undermining, while perceptions of coworkers’ exchange quality would attenuate it. Additionally, the results supported our three-way interaction hypothesis that perceived coworker exchange quality would weaken the two-way interaction effect of Machiavellianism and anticipated organizational change on social undermining. We discuss the implications of our findings, as well as avenues for future research.
|Number of pages||20|
|Journal||Journal of Business Ethics|
|Publication status||Published - 2022 Dec|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This research was supported by the ‘BK21 FOUR (Fostering Outstanding Universities for Research)’ in 2021, and Yonsei University’s 2020-2 Future-Leading Research Initiative (grant number 2020-22-0493), and Signature Research Cluster Program of 2021 (grant number 2021-22-0006).
© 2021, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Business and International Management
- Business, Management and Accounting(all)
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Economics and Econometrics