On the Association between Perceived Overqualification and Adaptive Behavior
35 Pages Posted: 1 May 2016
Date Written: April 28, 2016
Purpose – The purpose of this research was to offer an autonomous motivation perspective to explore the relationship between perceived overqualification and adaptive work behavior and examine job autonomy as a factor that may moderate the association.
Design/methodology/approach – The hypotheses were tested in two culturally, demographically, and functionally diverse samples: Sample 1 was based on North American community college employees (N = 215); sample 2 was based on full-time workers, employed in a Chinese state-owned enterprise specializing in shipping (N = 148).
Findings – In Study 1, perceived overqualification was negatively related to self-rated adaptive behavior. A follow-up Study 2 extended these findings by demonstrating that perceived overqualification was negatively related to supervisor-rated adaptive work behavior when job autonomy was low, rather than high.
Implications – The results of this research offer an autonomous motivation perspective to explain why perceived overqualification relates to adaptive behavior and suggests a job design approach to encourage adaptive behaviors of people who feel overqualified – a sizable segment of the current workforce.
Originality/value – This is one of the first studies to explore adaptive behavior of workers who feel overqualified – an outcome that has not been examined in this domain. Our findings further point out what can be done to encourage adaptive behaviors among overqualified employees.
Keywords: Perceived overqualification, adaptivity, job design, job autonomy, underemployment
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