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Eyes wide open: Perceived exploitation and its consequences

  • Author(s): Livne-Ofer, E
  • Coyle-Shapiro, JAM
  • Pearce, JL
  • et al.
Abstract

Drawing on the array of literature on exploitation from several social science disciplines, we propose a new way of seeing employer-employee relationships by introducing the concept of perceived exploitative employee-organization relationships, distinguish it from related concepts, and conduct five studies to develop a scale and test our theoretical model of the effects of such employee perceptions. Contributing to the employee- organization relationships and workplace emotions literatures, perceived exploitation is defined as employees' perceptions that they have been purposefully taken advantage of in their relationship with the organization, to the benefit of the organization itself. We propose and find that such perceptions are associated with both outward-focused emotions of anger and hostility toward the organization and inward-focused ones of shame and guilt at remaining in an exploitative job. In two studies including construction workers and a time-lagged study of medical residents, we find that the emotions of anger and hostility partially mediate the effects of perceived exploitation on employee engagement, revenge against the organization, organizational commitment, and turnover intentions, whereas the emotions of shame and guilt partially mediate the effects of perceived exploitation on employee burnout, silence, and psychological withdrawal.

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