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Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology

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In this study, we predict that higher levels of relative deprivation and higher levels of task mastery constitute two pathways through which perceived overqualification (POQ) has indirect and opposing effects on task performance. Further, we predict that occupational instrumentality, the degree to which the individual regards their job as a stepping tone to future career opportunities, will serve as a moderator for both pathways. Across two studies, as well as a supplementary study, we found evidence that POQ is positively associated with followers’ perceptions of both task mastery and relative deprivation. In both studies, we also found consistent evidence for a positive indirect effect between POQ and task performance via perceptions of task mastery. This indirect relationship was observed for both self-rated (Studies 1 and 2) and manager-rated task performance (Study 2). Further, occupational instrumentality mitigated the positive relationship between POQ and relative deprivation. Overall, the results suggest that POQ–task performance relationship is a function of dual pathways that work in opposing directions and that the ability to see the job as a stepping stone is instrumental in determining the strength of these pathways.


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