Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the relationship between relationship conflict and the perception of organization politics (POP) and the moderating role of employee engagement. The study hypothesizes that the conflict results in the presence of POP only for those employees who are relatively less engaged with the organization. The paper further explores the mediating role of perceived politics between the relationship conflict and job-related outcome variables including openness to diversity, turnover intent and perception of justice. In sum, the authors contend that employee engagement will act as a moderator between relationship conflict and POP, and POP further will act as a mediator between relationship conflict and its job-related outcomes.
Design/methodology/approach A descriptive study was carried on to conduct this research. Data were collected at two different points of time from the employees of two public sector undertakings (n=206). About 80 questionnaires were not returned by the respondents, reducing the sample size to be 126. Of these, 115 were usable, resulting in a 55.83 percent response rate. SEM was employed to test the hypotheses with the help of Smart PLS 3.0. A two-step process was followed to test the hypothesized model. Testing the significance of proposed relationships in the structural model was followed by the evaluation of the measurement model.
Findings The results of the study highlighted a positive association between the relationship conflict and POP. A moderating effect of employee engagement on relationship conflict and perceived organizational politics (POP) was observed. Further, POP was found to have a positive relationship with the intention to leave and a negative relationship with openness to diversity and perception of justice was observed. POP mediated the relationship between relationship conflict with the intention to leave and the perception of justice.
Research limitations/implications The very first limitation of the present study is its cross-sectional design. Since the data were gathered from the same respondents, the causal relationships between variables are subject to biases (Bobko and Stone-Romero, 1998). Further, the data were gathered with the help of self-report questionnaires, and the findings of this study might have been influenced by the social desirability response bias (Podsakoff et al., 2003). Hence, future work should focus on using a combination of sources for data collection. This study also proposes a possible role of emotional intelligence in employee engagement and their POP, which can be tested in future studies.
Practical implications The study suggests that relationship conflict leads to POP, which eventually results in adverse job-related outcomes. In order to control the negative effects of politics perception, organizations should undertake conflict prevention and conflict management techniques. To further reduce the level of POP, organizations shall take steps to better engage their employees because even when the level of relationship conflict is high, people perceive less politics if they are highly engaged with the organization.
Originality/value The study is an original work carried out to understand the relationship between relationship conflict and the POP, and the moderating role of employee engagement.
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