A Relational Model of Perceived Overqualification: The Moderating Role of Interpersonal Influence on Social Acceptance

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Journal of Management

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Theories of perceived overqualification have tended to focus on employees’ job-related responses to account for effects on performance. We offer an alternative perspective and theorize that perceived overqualification could influence work performance through a relational mechanism. We propose that relational skills, in the form of interpersonal influence of overqualified employees, determine their tendency to experience social acceptance and, thus, engage in positive work-related behaviors. We tested this relational model across two studies using time-lagged, multisource data. In Study 1, the results indicated that for employees high on interpersonal influence, perceived overqualification was positively related to self-reported social acceptance, whereas for employees low on interpersonal influence, the relationship was negative. Social acceptance, in turn, was positively related to in-role job performance, interpersonal altruism, and team member proactivity evaluated by supervisors. In Study 2, we focused on peer-reported social acceptance and found that the indirect relationships between perceived overqualification and supervisor-reported behavioral outcomes via social acceptance were negative when interpersonal influence was low and nonsignificant when interpersonal influence was high. The implications of the general findings are discussed.



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