Victimization of High Performers: The Roles of Envy and Work Group Identification

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Abstract

Drawing from victim precipitation, social comparison, and identity theories, this study develops and tests an integrative model of the victimization of high-performing employees. We examine envy as an explanatory mechanism of the victimization of high performers from fellow group members and propose work group identification as a moderator of this envy mechanism. Study 1, in a sample of 4,874 university staff employees in 339 work groups, supports the proposition that high performers are more likely to be targets of victimization. In Study 2, multisource data collected at 2 time points (217 employees in 67 work groups in 3 organizations), supports the proposition that high performers are more likely to be targets of victimization because of fellow group members’ envy, and work group identification mitigates the mediated relationship.

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