Hostile attribution and counterproductive work behavior A moderated mediation model of malicious envy, negative reciprocity and competitive organizational goal

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Jeongmin Rhee
Yonghwan Shin
YoungWoo Sohn


The purpose of the present study was to specify the mechanism of employees’ counterproductive work behavior (CWB) and to offer proper solutions for such behavior. For this purpose, this study proposed a moderated mediation model in which hostile attribution under upward social comparing situation in organizational context has an effect on CWB via malicious envy (ME), and the strength of the mediation effect is strengthened by employees’ negative reciprocity and competitive organizational goal, respectively. Results from a sample of 259 American workers showed that hostile attribution had a positive effect on CWB and ME fully mediated this relationship. The moderation effects of negative reciprocity and competitive organizational goal were found, respectively. Specifically, ME was more strongly associated with CWB as individuals’ negative reciprocity increased, and also as organizations’ competitive goals strengthened. Based on these results, theoretical and practical implications, limitations and directions for future research were discussed.


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Rhee, J., Shin, Y., & Sohn, Y. (2016). Hostile attribution and counterproductive work behavior: A moderated mediation model of malicious envy, negative reciprocity and competitive organizational goal. Korean Journal of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 29(4), 491–523.
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