Ambivalent Identification as a Moderator of the Link Between Organizational Identification and Counterproductive Work Behaviors

  • Valeria Ciampa
  • Moritz Sirowatka
  • Sebastian C. Schuh
  • Franco Fraccaroli
  • Rolf van DickEmail author
Original Paper


Although counterproductive work behaviors can be extremely damaging to organizations and society as a whole, we do not yet fully understand the link between employees’ organizational attachment and their intention to engage in such behaviors. Based on social identity theory, we predicted a negative relationship between organizational identification and counterproductive work behaviors. We also predicted that this relationship would be moderated by ambivalent identification. We explored counterproductive work behaviors toward the organization (CWB-O) and other individuals (CWB-I). Study 1, a survey of 198 employees, revealed that employees who identified strongly with their organization reported lower levels of CWB-O, but as predicted, only when ambivalent identification was low. Study 2 involved a manipulation in the form of a scenario presented to 228 U.S. employees, generally replicated the findings of Study 1: the link between organizational identification and CWB-O was stronger for participants in the low ambivalence condition than for those in the high ambivalence condition. The interaction effect of ambivalent and organizational identification on CWB-I was only marginally significant in the second study. These findings provide new evidence for the positive influence of organizational identification under conditions of low ambivalence on counterproductive behaviors toward an organization.


Organizational identification Counterproductive work behaviors Ambivalent identification 



We are also grateful to Farida Youssef and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Valeria Ciampa
    • 1
    • 2
  • Moritz Sirowatka
    • 3
  • Sebastian C. Schuh
    • 4
  • Franco Fraccaroli
    • 1
  • Rolf van Dick
    • 3
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Psychology and Cognitive ScienceUniversity of TrentoTrentoItaly
  2. 2.Facoltà di Medicina e PsicologiaSapienza Università di RomaRomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of PsychologyGoethe UniversityFrankfurtGermany
  4. 4.Department of Organizational Behavior and Human Resource ManagementChina Europe International Business School (CEIBS)ShanghaiChina
  5. 5.Work Research Institute (AFI)OsloNorway

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