Moderators of the effects of perceived job insecurity: A comparison of temporary and permanent employees

Clark, Lynette Joy (2005) Moderators of the effects of perceived job insecurity: A comparison of temporary and permanent employees. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Perceived job insecurity is receiving increasing recognition as an important determinant of employee work outcomes. Empirical research consistently shows that job insecurity perceptions are associated with adverse reactions by employees, in terms of reduced psychological well-being (De Witte, 1999), job satisfaction (O'Quin & LoTempio, 1998), and organisational commitment (Rosenblatt & Ruvio, 1996). Turnover intentions for the job-insecure are higher (Tivendell & Bourbonnai, 2000) as well. It is therefore important to understand what may increase or decrease such detrimental effects of job insecurity. Even so, it was not until the late 1990s that much academic literature was published in the field (De Witte & Näswall, 2003).

Employees not only worry about their assessment of the likelihood of job loss, but also about the consequences of such an occurrence (Burchell, 2002). This dissertation argues that perceived job insecurity is a function of what an individual believes is an acceptable risk of job loss given their individual circumstances. Based on the literature, a model is developed proposing a number of moderators of the effects of job insecurity. One of those moderators is temporary job status. Little research is available that examines how job insecurity influences the work attitudes and behaviours of temporaries (De Witte, 1999; Kinnuen & Nätti, 1994; Sloboda, 1999). Few studies compare temporaries' reactions to those of traditional, permanent employees. Study one examined whether temporaries had higher job insecurity than permanents in a sample of three hundred and ninety-one employees (122 temporary and 269 permanent) in low to medium level non-academic positions at two Australian universities. No significant differences were found. However, temporaries and permanents reacted differently to job insecurity when a number of individual differences were also considered.

The temporary employment literature consistently shows that individuals that prefer temporary work have more positive work outcomes (Feldman, 1990, 1995). Thus the extent of choice temporaries had in their job status was chosen as a potential moderator of job insecurity relationships. Findings indicate that choice in job status differentially influenced the contextual performance, continuance commitment, and turnover intentions of temporaries and permanents, as predicted. For example, when temporaries preferred temporary work and felt secure, they had similar turnover intentions to permanents. Explanations why individuals involuntarily accept temporary work include a lack of job alternatives. Thus another moderator tested was employability, concerning perceptions about finding comparable employment in the event of job loss. Employability influenced the continuance commitment and intention to change job status of temporaries and permanents differently. In particular, the findings suggest that the negative effects of job insecurity worsened for highly employable temporaries, decreasing their continuance commitment, since when secure, highly employable temporaries and permanents had similar continuance commitment levels.

Subjective job dependency, as a moderator of job insecurity, affected temporaries and permanents in the same way. Specifically, the more insecure and the less dependent the employee was the lower was their contextual performance. Two sources of social support were also tested in study one. One source, social support from supervisors and co-workers was shown to differentially influence the contextual performance of temporaries and permanents. Specifically, the negative effects of job insecurity were alleviated for temporaries with high organisational social support, such that their contextual performance was higher than that of permanents. Family social support and temporary job status also moderated the relationship between job insecurity and job satisfaction, though not as predicted. For temporaries, the level of family social support did not influence the effects of job insecurity on job satisfaction. For permanents though, family social support alleviated the effects of job insecurity, such that the more family social support experienced the higher the job satisfaction.

A follow-up study (n = 116) was conducted one year later. The longitudinal effects of job insecurity were examined. Of the work outcomes assessed, only continuance commitment was predicted by Time 1 job insecurity, once prior levels of the outcome variables were controlled. A second purpose of study two was to test job embeddedness - a measure of employee retention - as a moderator of the relationship between job insecurity and work outcomes. The results indicate that the negative effects of job insecurity were exacerbated when employees perceived their organisation-related sacrifices to be great, lessening both their affective commitment and contextual performance contributions. Theoretical and practical implications of the results of both studies are discussed. For instance, these findings suggest that temporary job status should not be used as a proxy measure of job insecurity. Finally, directions for future research are proposed.

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ID Code: 16126
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Bradley, Lisa & Kabanoff, Boris
Keywords: job insecurity, job satisfaction, organisational commitment, turnover, temporaries, permanents
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Department: Faculty of Business
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Lynette Joy Clark
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:57
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2015 04:07

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