Hostname: page-component-cd4964975-8cclj Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2023-03-28T16:45:59.456Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "useRatesEcommerce": false } hasContentIssue true

Political skill and self-serving counterproductive work behaviors: Moderating role of perceptions of organizational politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 September 2019

Fariha Zahid*
Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Opposite sector “U”, Lahore Cantt, Postal Code 54792, Lahore, Pakistan
Arif Nazir Butt
Suleman Dawood School of Business, Lahore University of Management Sciences, Opposite sector “U”, Lahore Cantt, Postal Code 54792, Lahore, Pakistan
Abdul Karim Khan
UAE University, Office 2051, Building H-3, Khalifa Bin Zayed Road, Al Ain15551, UAE
*Corresponding author. Email:


The scholarship on political skill documents that it is a social savvy, personal style construct, associated with positive personal and organizational outcomes. However, this study takes a counterintuitive view and demonstrates that despite being a positive resource, political skill also has the potential to be used as a self-serving device to achieve one's personal agendas in the form of self-serving counterproductive work behaviors. Borrowing insights from the trait activation theory, this study demonstrates that a context, high in political perceptions, acts as an incentivized condition for politically skilled people to execute its dark side. The results supported the hypothesis and revealed that under high perceptions of organizational politics, political skill will have a significant, positive relation with self-serving counterproductive work behaviors. The study discusses important theoretical and practical implications of these results and extends the domains of political skill and counterproductive work behaviors.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management 2019

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


Aiken, L. S., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Anderson, J. C., & Gerbing, D. W. (1988). Structural equation modeling in practice: A review and recommended two-step approach. Psychological Bulletin, 103(3), 411423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blickle, G., Kramer, J., Schneider, P. B., Meurs, J. A., Ferris, G. R., Mierke, J., & Momm, T. D. (2011). Role of political skill in job performance prediction beyond general mental ability and personality in cross-sectional and predictive studies 1. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 41(2), 488514.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blickle, G., & Schnitzler, A. K. (2010). Is the political skill inventory fit for personnel selection? An experimental field study. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18(2), 155165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Blickle, G., Wendel, S., & Ferris, G. R. (2010). Political skill as moderator of personality–job performance relationships in socioanalytic theory: Test of the getting ahead motive in automobile sales. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 76(2), 326335.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bowling, N. A., & Gruys, M. L. (2010). Overlooked issues in the conceptualization and measurement of counterproductive work behavior. Human Resource Management Review, 20(1), 5461.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bozeman, D. P., Perrewe, P. L., Kacmar, K. M., Hochwarter, W. A., & Brymer, R. A. (1996). An examination of reactions to perceptions of organizational politics. In southern management association meeting, New Orleans, LA.Google Scholar
Brouer, R. L., Duke, A., Treadway, D. C., & Ferris, G. R. (2009). The moderating effect of political skill on the demographic dissimilarity – leader–member exchange quality relationship. The Leadership Quarterly, 20(2), 6169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brouer, R. L., Harris, K. J., & Kacmar, K. M. (2011). The moderating effects of political skill on the perceived politics–outcome relationships. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 32(6), 869885.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Chang, C. H., Rosen, C. C., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain, and behavior: A meta-analytic examination. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 779801.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cropanzano, R., Howes, J. C., Grandey, A. A., & Toth, P. (1997). The relationship of organizational politics and support to work behaviors, attitudes, and stress. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 18(2), 159180.3.0.CO;2-D>CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dahling, J. J., Whitaker, B. G., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The development and validation of a new Machiavellianism scale. Journal of Management, 35(2), 219257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
De Clercq, D., & Belausteguigoitia, I. (2017). Mitigating the negative effect of perceived organizational politics on organizational citizenship behavior: Moderating roles of contextual and personal resources. Journal of Management and Organization, 23(5), 689708.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drory, A., & Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2010). Organizational politics and human resource management: A typology and the Israeli experience. Human Resource Management Review, 20(3), 194202.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fedor, D., Maslyn, J., Farmer, S., & Bettenhausen, K. (2008). The contribution of positive politics to the prediction of employee reactions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(1), 7696.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Berkson, H. M., Kaplan, D. M., Gilmore, D. C., Buckley, M. R., Hochwarter, W. A., & Witt, L. A. (1999). Development and initial validation of the political skill inventory. Paper presented at the Academy of Management, 59th Annual National Meeting, Chicago.Google Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Blickle, G., Schneider, P. B., Kramer, J., Zettler, I., Solga, J., & Meurs, J. A. (2008). Political skill construct and criterion-related validation: A two-study investigation. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 23(7), 744771.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Harrell-Cook, G., & Dulebohn, J. H. (2000). Organizational politics: The nature of the relationship between politics perceptions and political behavior. In Bacharach, S. B. & Lawler, E. J. (Eds.), Research in the sociology of organizations (pp. 89130). Greenwich, CT: JAI: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Perrewé, P. L., Daniels, S. R., Lawong, D., & Holmes, J. J. (2017). Social influence and politics in organizational research: What we know and what we need to know. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 24(1), 519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Perrewe, P. L., & Douglas, C. (2002). Social effectiveness in organizations: Construct validity and research directions. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 9(1), 4963.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Russ, G. S., & Fandt, P. M. (1989). Politics in organizations. In Giacalone, R. A. & Rosenfeld, P. (Eds.), Impression management in the organization (pp. 143170). Hillsdale, NJ, USA: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.Google Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Treadway, D. C., Brouer, R. L., & Munyon, T. P. (2012). Political skill in the organizational sciences. In Ferris, G. R. & Treadway, D. C.. (Eds.), Politics in organizations, Theory and research implications (pp. 487528). New York, NY: Routledge/Taylor and Francis.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Treadway, D. C., Kolodinsky, R. W., Hochwarter, W. A., Kacmar, C. J., Douglas, C., & Frink, D. D. (2005). Development and validation of the political skill inventory. Journal of Management, 31(1), 126152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ferris, G. R., Treadway, D. C., Perrewé, P. L., Brouer, R. L., Douglas, C., & Lux, S. (2007). Political skill in organizations. Journal of Management, 33(3), 290320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fida, R., Paciello, M., Tramontano, C., Fontaine, R. G., Barbaranelli, C., & Farnese, M. L. (2015). An integrative approach to understanding counterproductive work behavior: The roles of stressors, negative emotions, and moral disengagement. Journal of Business Ethics, 130(1), 131144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fox, S., Spector, P. E., Goh, A., & Bruursema, K. (2007). Does your coworker know what you're doing? Convergence of self-and peer-reports of counterproductive work behavior. International Journal of Stress Management, 14(1), 4160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Fox, S., Spector, P. E., & Miles, D. (2001). Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in response to job stressors and organizational justice: Some mediator and moderator tests for autonomy and emotions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59(3), 291309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Funder, D. C. (2006). Towards a resolution of the personality triad: Persons, situations, and behaviors. Journal of Research in Personality, 40(1), 2134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Funder, D. C. (2009). Persons, behaviors and situations: An agenda for personality psychology in the postwar era. Journal of Research in Personality, 43, 120126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Griffin, R. W., & Lopez, Y. P. (2005). ‘Bad behavior’ in organizations: A review and typology for future research. Journal of Management, 31(6), 9881005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gruys, M. L., & Sackett, P. R. (2003). Investigating the dimensionality of counterproductive work behavior. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 11(1), 3042.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harris, K. J., Andrews, M. C., & Kacmar, K. M. (2007). The moderating effects of justice on the relationship between organizational politics and workplace attitudes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(2), 135144.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Harris, M. M., & Schaubroeck, J. (1988). A meta-analysis of self-supervisor, self-peer, and peer-supervisor ratings. Personnel Psychology, 41(1), 4362.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hayes, A. F. (2016). The PROCESS macro for SPSS and SAS. Retrieved from Scholar
Hinkin, T. R. (1998). A brief tutorial on the development of measures for use in survey questionnaires. Organizational Research Methods, 1(1), 104121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hochwarter, W. A., Witt, L. A., & Kacmar, K. M. (2000). Perceptions of organizational politics as a moderator of the relationship between consciousness and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 85(3), 472478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoyle, R. H. (1995). Structural equation modeling: Concepts, issues, and applications. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1998). Fit indices in covariance structure modeling: Sensitivity to underparameterized model misspecification. Psychological Methods, 3(4), 424453.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hu, L. T., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 6(1), 155.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Judge, T. A., & Zapata, C. P. (2015). The person–situation debate revisited: Effect of situation strength and trait activation on the validity of the big five personality traits in predicting job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 58(4), 11491179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jung, H. S., & Yoon, H. H. (2012). The effects of emotional intelligence on counterproductive work behaviors and organizational citizen behaviors among food and beverage employees in a deluxe hotel. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 31(2), 369378.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kacmar, K. M., & Carlson, D. S. (1997). Further validation of the perceptions of politics scale (POPS): A multiple sample investigation. Journal of Management, 23(5), 627658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kapoutsis, I., Papalexandris, A., Treadway, D. C., & Bentley, J. (2017). Measuring political will in organizations: Theoretical construct development and empirical validation. Journal of Management, 43(7), 22522280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Keltner, D., Gruenfeld, D. H., & Anderson, C. (2003). Power, approach, and inhibition. Psychological Review, 110(2), 265284.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Khan, A. K., Moss, S., Quratulain, S., & Hameed, I. (2016). When and how subordinate performance leads to abusive supervision: A social dominance perspective. Journal of Management, 44(7), 28012826.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kimura, T. (2015). A review of political skill: Current research trend and directions for future research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 17(3), 312332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kline, R. B. (2005). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
Marcus, B., & Schuler, H. (2004). Antecedents of counterproductive behavior at work: A general perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 89(4), 647660.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Marsh, H. W., Hau, K. T., & Wen, Z. (2004). In search of golden rules: Comment on hypothesis-testing approaches to setting cutoff values for fit indexes and dangers in overgeneralizing Hu and Bentler's (1999) findings. Structural Equation Modeling, 11(3), 320341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martinko, M. J., Gundlach, M. J., & Douglas, S. C. (2002). Toward an integrative theory of counterproductive workplace behavior: A causal reasoning perspective. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10(1–2), 3650.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mayes, B. T., & Allen, R. W. (1977). Toward a definition of organizational politics. Academy of Management Review, 2(4), 672678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meurs, J. A., Gallagher, V. C., & Perrewé, P. L. (2010). The role of political skill in the stressor–outcome relationship: Differential predictions for self-and other-reports of political skill. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 76(3), 520533.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Meyer, R. D., Dalal, R. S., & Hermida, R. (2010). A review and synthesis of situational strength in the organizational sciences. Journal of Management, 36(1), 121140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., & Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mintzberg, H. (1983). Power in and around organizations (Vol. 142). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
Mintzberg, H. (1985). The organization as political arena. Journal of Management Studies, 22(2), 133154.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mischel, W. (1968). Personality and assessment. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
Mischel, W. (1977) On the future of personality measurement. American Psychologist, 32, 246254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mischel, W. (2009). From personality and assessment (1968) to personality science, 2009. Journal of Research in Personality, 43(2), 282290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moorman, R. H., & Blakely, G. L. (1995). Individualism-collectivism as an individual difference predictor of organizational citizenship behavior. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 16(2), 127142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Munyon, T. P., Summers, J. K., Thompson, K. M., & Ferris, G. R. (2015). Political skill and work outcomes: A theoretical extension, meta-analytic investigation, and agenda for the future. Personnel Psychology, 68(1), 143184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mussel, P., & Spengler, M. (2015). Investigating intellect from a trait activation perspective: Identification of situational moderators for the correlation with work-related criteria. Journal of Research in Personality, 55, 5160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Naseer, S., Raja, U., Syed, F., Donia, M. B., & Darr, W. (2016). Perils of being close to a bad leader in a bad environment: Exploring the combined effects of despotic leadership, leader member exchange, and perceived organizational politics on behaviors. The Leadership Quarterly, 27(1), 1433.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nunnally, J. C. (1976). Psychometric theory (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
Penney, L. M., & Spector, P. E. (2005). Job stress, incivility, and counterproductive work behavior (CWB): The moderating role of negative affectivity. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26(7), 777796.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pfeffer, J. (2010). Power: Why some people have it and some people don't. San Francisco: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
Pfeffer, J. (1981). Power in organizations (Vol. 33): Pitman Marshfield, MA.Google Scholar
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Robinson, S. L., & Bennett, R. J. (1995). A typology of deviant workplace behaviors: A multidimensional scaling study. Academy of Management Journal, 38(2), 555572.Google Scholar
Sackett, P. R. (2002). The structure of counterproductive work behaviors: Dimensionality and relationships with facets of job performance. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 10(1–2), 511.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Shi, J., Johnson, R. E., Liu, Y., & Wang, M. (2013). Linking subordinate political skill to supervisor dependence and reward recommendations: A moderated mediation model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98(2), 374.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2005). A model of counterproductive work behavior. In Fox, S. & Spector, P. E. (Eds.), Counterproductive workplace behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 151174). Washington, DC: APA.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Tett, R. P., & Burnett, D. D. (2003). A personality trait-based interactionist model of job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88(3), 500517.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tett, R. P., & Guterman, H. A. (2000). Situation trait relevance, trait expression, and cross-situational consistency: Testing a principle of trait activation. Journal of Research in Personality, 34(4), 397423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Todd, S. Y., Harris, K. J., Harris, R. B., & Wheeler, A. R. (2009). Career success implications of political skill. The Journal of Social Psychology, 149(3), 279304.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Tucker, L. R., & Lewis, C. (1973). A reliability coefficient for maximum likelihood factor analysis. Psychometrika, 38(1), 110.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vardi, Y., & Wiener, Y. (1996). Misbehavior in organizations: A motivational framework. Organization Science, 7(2), 151165.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigoda, E. (2001). Reactions to organizational politics: A cross-cultural examination in Israel and Britain. Human Relations, 54(11), 14831518.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigoda, E. (2002). Stress-related aftermaths to workplace politics: The relationships among politics, job distress, and aggressive behavior in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 23(5), 571591.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigoda, E., & Cohen, A. (2002). Influence tactics and perceptions of organizational politics: A longitudinal study. Journal of Business Research, 55(4), 311324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigoda-Gadot, E., & Kapun, D. (2005). Perceptions of politics and perceived performance in public and private organisations: A test of one model across two sectors. Policy and Politics, 33(2), 251276.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Vigoda-Gadot, E., & Talmud, I. (2010). Organizational politics and job outcomes: The moderating effect of trust and social support. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40(11), 28292861.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wei, F., & Si, S. (2013). Tit for tat? Abusive supervision and counterproductive work behaviors: The moderating effects of locus of control and perceived mobility. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 30(1), 281296.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Westbrook, T. S., Veale, J. R., & Karnes, R. E. (2013). Multirater and gender differences in the measurement of political skill in organizations. Journal of Leadership Studies, 7(1), 617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zellars, K. L., Perrewé, P. L., Rossi, A. M., Tepper, B. J., & Ferris, G. R. (2008). Moderating effects of political skill, perceived control, and job-related self-efficacy on the relationship between negative affectivity and physiological strain. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 29(5), 549571.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Zettler, I., & Hilbig, B. E. (2010). Honesty–humility and a person–situation interaction at work. European Journal of Personality, 24(7), 569582.CrossRefGoogle Scholar