Original Research

Exploring employer–employee relationship: A psychological contract breach-exit voice and loyalty effect mediated by the dark triad

Uche Mmamel, James Abugu, Leo Ilechukwu, Anastasia Ogbo, Vincent Onodugo, Grace Ofoegbu, Henry U. Okwo
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2079 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2079 | © 2021 Uche Mmamel, James Abugu, Leo Ilechukwu, Anastasia Ogbo, Vincent Onodugo, Grace Ofoegbu, Henry U. Okwo | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 April 2020 | Published: 31 May 2021

About the author(s)

Uche Mmamel, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
James Abugu, Department of Marketing, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Leo Ilechukwu, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Anastasia Ogbo, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Vincent Onodugo, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Grace Ofoegbu, Department of Accountancy, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria
Henry U. Okwo, Department of Management, Faculty of Business Administration, University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria


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Abstract

Purpose: To understand the underlying employer–employee relationships when there are weak labour laws and high unemployment, we tested a mediation of the ‘Dirty Dozen’ – 12 – items measuring the dark triad (Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism) on the Psychological Contract Breach (PCB) – Exit, Voice and Loyalty (EVL) effect.

Design/methodology/approach: Using 391 respondents comprising the staff of a large financial institution in Nigeria, we formulated the hypotheses to establish direct, indirect and total effects of the variables studied. Constructs diagnostics were performed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) for construct validity, composite reliability for internal consistency and Hayes’ mediated regression to test the hypotheses.

Findings/results: All direct effects were statistically significant. Narcissism is shown as the non-statistically supported mediator amongst the dark triad, whilst the study showed that the total effect of the multiple mediators worsens loyalty behaviour more than they predict exit behaviour.

Practical Implications: This implies that employers should do better to maintain a healthy work climate in developing climes, as the dominant response to contract breach would not be exit, but rather disloyalty, which would be more disruptive to the organisation than either exit or voice.

Originality/value: Post Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) there could be a threat to sustainable work systems. Both employers and employees would have to develop methods to deal with perceived breach from employers and idiosyncratic work behaviour of employees. The contributions of this study would aid sustainable work-related practices, especially within unregulated work environments as present in Africa and other developing nations across the world.


Keywords

contract; exit; voice; loyalty; psychopathy; narcissism; Machiavellianism.

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