Dark traits, social loafing and team member exchange: who slacks and when?

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Management Research Review


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the workplace team member self-reported social loafing (SL) in relation to the dark triad personality traits of Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. The moderating effect of team member exchange (TMX), a social contextual factor, on each proposed dark trait-SL relationship was also examined. A person X situation interactionist perspective was adopted. Design/methodology/approach: American employees were recruited to complete surveys consisting of previously published, validated and reliable scales. Correlations and hierarchical regressions were used to test the study hypotheses. Findings: As hypothesized, all positive dark trait-SL relationships were supported. TMX moderated the Machiavellianism-SL and psychopathy-SL relationships, as hypothesized. Unexpectedly, TMX was not found to moderate the narcissism-SL relationship. Originality/value: Findings imply increased managerial monitoring costs when supervising employees with elevated levels of dark traits. This is especially so when workers are assigned to team tasks and SL is a concern. To alleviate loafing tendencies, the nurturing of high-quality TMX relations among employees with elevated levels of traits Machiavellianism and psychopathy likely moderates the positive Machiavellianism- and psychopathy-SL relations. The emerging SL literature that accounts for both personality and situation, the dark trait-deviant workplace behavior literature stream and research evidencing the ability of TMX to remedy problematic characteristic behaviors are all extended by the present research.


Management, Marketing, and Logistics

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