Can job stressors activate amoral manipulation? A weekly-diary study

X (Gloria) Ma*, Paraskevas Petrou, Arnold Bakker, Marise Born

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study investigates whether job stressors such as role ambiguity, procedural unfairness, and perceived competition may prompt high Machiavellian employees to use amoral manipulation at work. We also examine whether these manipulative behaviors are consequently related to their own task performance and affiliative citizenship behaviors. A weekly diary study was conducted among 111 Dutch employees over five consecutive working weeks, resulting in 446 assessed occasions. Using a multilevel moderated mediation model, we found that the relationship between weekly job stressors and weekly amoral manipulation (AM) was contingent on trait AM, when the job stressor was role ambiguity (but not when the job stressor was either weekly procedural unfairness or weekly perceived competition). Our results also revealed significant indirect effects of weekly role ambiguity on weekly task performance and weekly display of courtesy through state AM, when trait AM was high. Our findings suggest that role ambiguity activates high Machiavellian employees’ manipulative behaviors at work, which in turn leads to impaired task performance and less courtesy toward others during the same working week.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-482
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2023

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