The Moderating Effects of Personality on the Relationship Between Change in Work Stressors and Change in Counterproductive Work Behaviors

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We examined the relationship between change in work stressors and change in counterproductive work behaviours ( CWBs) over 6 months using three waves of data. Increases in work stressors (i.e., interpersonal conflict and organizational constraints) were positively associated with both increases in CWBs (trend effects) and subsequent levels of CWBs (delayed-reaction effects). Personality characteristics (i.e., agreeableness and conscientiousness) were examined as moderators of the trend effects and delayed-reaction effects. As expected, the trend effect was stronger for low-agreeableness (or low-conscientiousness) workers than for high-agreeableness (or high-conscientiousness) workers. Contrary to expectations, however, the delayed-reaction effect was not consistently moderated by personality. We recommend that organizations recognize the potential for delayed consequences when estimating the effects of changes to the work environment. Organizations may also consider using individually tailored training methods (based on the worker's unique personality) to instruct workers about effective coping strategies. Practitioner points Unfortunately for organizations, the nature of the work stressor- CWB relationship is likely more complex than could be previously understood utilizing cross-sectional data. Organizations should be aware that CWBs could increase concurrently with an increase in work stressors (trend effect) and subsequently after an extended increase in work stressors has occurred (delayed-reaction effect)., The potential presence of both immediate and delayed CWB responses to change in work stressors may indicate that the damage caused by work stressors is often underestimated. Organizations need to be more aware of the potential delayed costs of changes in work stressors for financial forecasting, programme development, and policy change., Organizations should be particularly concerned about an increase in work stressors immediately resulting in CWBs among low-conscientiousness or low-agreeableness workers. Efforts to educate workers about effective coping strategies could be tailored based on the employee's personality. Managers, however, should be aware that low-conscientiousness or low-agreeableness workers may be particularly vulnerable to delayed effects of increasing work stressors.



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