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Threat of losing valued job features: the role of perceived control in mediating the effect of qualitative job insecurity on job strain and psychological withdrawal
Van der Elst, Tinne
De Cuyper, Nele
De Witte, Hans
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Quantitative job insecurity, relating to threat of job loss, has received considerable research attention, but relatively little is known about qualitative job insecurity. The latter relates to uncertainty regarding valued job characteristics, such as career and wage progression. The aim of this study was to investigate whether situational appraisals of control may account for the relationship between qualitative job insecurity and both job strain (depressive symptoms and upper musculoskeletal complaints) and psychological withdrawal (affective organizational commitment and turnover intentions). The hypotheses were tested by means of two-wave longitudinal data (time lag of 14 months) from 722 Swedish white-collar workers in four samples. The results of cross-lagged structural equation modelling showed that qualitative job insecurity was negatively related to subsequent perceived control. Furthermore, perceptions of high control over the job situation were associated with decreased depressive symptoms and increased affective organizational commitment over time. Formal tests pointed at a significant indirect effect of qualitative job insecurity on affective organizational commitment through perceived control. No effects of perceived control on upper musculoskeletal complaints and turnover intentions were found. This study indicates the importance of qualitative job insecurity for employees’ functioning and highlights perceived control as an explanation of job insecurity outcomes.