Deviance and exit: The organizational costs of job insecurity and moral disengagement

Guo hua Huang, Edward Wellman, Susan J. Ashford, Cynthia Lee, Li Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

140 Scopus citations


This study examines why and when employees might respond to job insecurity by engaging in workplace deviance and developing intentions to leave-2 activities that are costly for organizations. Drawing on social exchange theory and the theory of moral disengagement, we propose that job insecurity increases workplace deviance and intentions to leave by encouraging employees to morally disengage. We further propose that the strength of the positive association between job insecurity, moral disengagement, and these outcomes is contingent upon 2 aspects of the situation- employees' perceived employment opportunities outside the organization and the quality of the exchange relationship they have developed with their supervisors (leader-member exchange, or LMX). Two time-lagged studies of Chinese workers provide support for the hypothesized 1st-stage moderated mediation model. Specifically, the indirect effect of job insecurity on organizational and interpersonal deviance and intentions to leave via moral disengagement was positive and significant when individuals had more employment opportunities or when LMX was lower but not when they had fewer employment opportunities or when LMX was higher.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-42
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Employment opportunities
  • Job insecurity
  • Leader-member exchange
  • Moral disengagement
  • Workplace deviance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology


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