Why and when job insecurity hinders employees’ taking charge behavior: The role of flexibility and work-based self-esteem

Yijing Lyu, Chia Huei Wu, Ho Kwong Kwan, Cynthia Lee, Hong Deng

Research output: Journal PublicationArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Job insecurity is negatively associated with employees’ extra-role behavior. Studies of this negative impact often use a social exchange or stress–strain perspective to explain how job insecurity impairs employees’ extra-role behavior. This study offers an alternative account. Based on a conservation of resources perspective, the authors propose that job insecurity denotes a threat of loss of resources, which will motivate individuals to focus on how to protect what they have and reduce further loss. Such conservation of resources will limit one’s flexibility, or the ability to consider alternatives and change a course of action in response to environmental changes, and thus undermine employees’ extra-role behavior for pursuing constructive changes at work (i.e., taking charge). The authors also propose that the impact of job insecurity on flexibility can be more detrimental to employees higher in work-based self-esteem (i.e., domain-specific self-esteem) due to the experience of self-concept dissonance. The results, obtained from 188 employees in 19 teams of a manufacturing company, supported the hypotheses, while mechanisms suggested by a social exchange perspective (i.e., felt obligation to organizations) and a stress–strain perspective (i.e., vigor) were taken into account. This investigation extends understanding of how and why job insecurity influences employees’ work behavior, as well as who is most vulnerable to job insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)853-874
Number of pages22
JournalEconomic and Industrial Democracy
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • Conservation of resources theory
  • flexibility
  • job insecurity
  • proactivity
  • self-esteem

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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