Overqualification and counterproductive work behaviors: examining a moderated mediation model

Songqi Liu, Aleksandra Luksyte, Le Zhou, Junqi Shi, Mo Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


The current study examined the effect of employees' perceived overqualification on counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs). Building on person-job fit theory and prior research on such organizational phenomena, we conceptualized overqualification as a type of poor person-job fit. Drawing on the dual-process model, we further suggested that in processing their person-job misfit, overqualified employees might cognitively appraise themselves as less worthy organizational members and experientially feel angry toward the employment situation. We also suggested that to the extent that overqualified people are sensitive to justice, they may react more or less strongly to being overqualified. We tested our predictions using time-lagged data from a sample of 224 workers and their supervisors employed in a large manufacturing company in China. Consistent with our theoretical framework, we found that organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) and anger toward employment situation mediated the positive relationships between perceived overqualification and both self-rated and supervisor-rated CWBs. In addition, justice sensitivity moderated the relationship between perceived overqualification and the mediators (i.e.,OBSE and anger) and the indirect relationship between perceived overqualification and CWB. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings as well as future research directions are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-271
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Anger
  • Counterproductive work behaviors
  • Justice sensitivity
  • Organization-based self-esteem
  • Overqualification

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