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A theoretical and empirical extension of the perceived organizational support construct: three papers examining the role of social comparison, organizational malevolence, and social resources

Champion, Stephen (2015) A theoretical and empirical extension of the perceived organizational support construct: three papers examining the role of social comparison, organizational malevolence, and social resources. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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The perceived organizational support (POS) construct has received a significant degree of attention within the literature, helping scholars and practitioners alike to better understand and interpret the relational dynamic between the employee and their employer. However, this thesis contends that there are a number of assumptions, gaps and confounds that limit the extent to which POS can offer greater construct validity. As such, this thesis presents a collection of three stand-alone scholarly papers that aim to further develop and extend the POS construct as well as organizational support theory (OST), both theoretically and empirically. The first paper explores the theoretical assumption that an individual’s POS is increased by both the direct (i.e. idiosyncratic) receipt of supportive organizational treatment, as well as the observation of coworker (i.e. the group/collective) receipt of such treatment. This presents a potential confound in that OST also holds that POS is systemic of notions that the individual is treated fairly; thus hypothetically, an individual’s appraisal that, in comparison, other coworkers have received more supportive organizational treatment, could lead to notions of unfair treatment due to relative under-benefit. As such this paper explores the influence the social context and social comparison processes have regarding POS, with findings suggesting that employees can and do differentiate between their idiosyncratic receipt of organizational support in comparison to others (perceived organizational support social comparison – POSSC), and that such a perception accounts for unique and meaningful variance with regards to the measurement of POS as well as possessing unique motivational and predictive influence on prosocial outcomes. The second paper examines the assumption that whilst accounting for organizational benevolence, the POS construct also accounts for organizational malevolence. By utilizing the recently proposed theoretical construct of perceived organizational cruelty (POC), this paper explores POS and POC’s convergent and discriminant validity, both theoretically and empirically, and suggests that whilst POS specifically concerns organizational benevolence, POC in turn specifically concerns organizational malevolence. Findings elucidate that the constructs are (antithetically) related, yet are distinct such that each construct possesses differential characteristics as they relate to certain attitudinal and behavioral outcomes. Finally, the third paper explores the mechanisms and motivations that exist within the POS-prosocial outcome dynamic. Extant OST holds that this dynamic is subject to conscious and rational rules and norms relating to social exchange and reciprocity. Conversely, by utilizing conservation of resources and self-determination theories, this paper reasons that the POS-prosocial outcome dynamic could also be subject to subconscious influences relating to self-relevant resources and needs for relatedness. Findings that POS functions through emotional engagement (as opposed to cognitive and physical engagement) offer support for this reasoning, suggesting that rather than being instrumental in nature, POS acts as an emotional resource that facilitates greater emotionally based prosocial outcomes. Overall, in order to test hypotheses in each paper, data from one or a combination of three samples was utilized; with these samples being a longitudinal survey of employees from a large hospital/healthcare provider in the UK, a longitudinal survey of employees of a graduate development scheme within a large international logistics company based in the UK, and a convenience sample of individuals employed in the USA.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2015 Stephen A. Champion
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Sets: Departments > Management
Supervisor: Avgerou, Chrisanthi and Pepper, Alexander

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