Managers, Engagement and Political Behaviors: A Nonlinear Relationship

Romulo Matos de Moraes Aridelmo José Campanharo Teixeira About the authors

RESUMO

Contexto

normalmente ligados aos centros de poder e tomada de decisão, os gestores encontram-se mais próximos aos efeitos da Percepção de Política nas Organizações, um fenômeno considerado contraproducente, porém inerente à própria existência das instituições.

Objetivo

este estudo investiga como gestores de diversas empresas, com diferentes níveis de Engajamento no Trabalho encaram a presença de comportamentos políticos em suas organizações.

Método

dados de uma survey com 1498 gestores foram submetidos a análise de clusters; regressões múltiplas lineares e não lineares subsidiaram testes de hipóteses.

Resultados

na maioria dos casos analisados, a resiliência, o envolvimento e a concentração mitigaram a percepção de comportamentos políticos na organização. Entretanto, constatou-se uma quebra de paradigma entre os altamente engajados: o Engajamento impactou no aumento da Percepção de Política.

Conclusões

Engajamento no Trabalho e Percepção de Política na Organização relacionam-se de forma curvilínea, indicando que não são necessariamente antagônicos. O estudo indica que gestores emocionalmente e cognitivamente estruturados tendem a aumentar seu engajamento mesmo diante de uma elevada percepção de um ambiente político, revelando uma perspectiva positiva às práticas de gestão: fomentar um maior entendimento e conexão com o ambiente organizacional possivelmente trará resultados mais eficazes do que tentativas de coibir ou negligenciar os comportamentos políticos.Classificação JEL: D72, G32, C2.

engajamento no trabalho; percepção de política na organização; comportamento organizacional; relacionamento não linear

ABSTRACT

Context

usually linked to power and decision making, managers are much closer to the effects of the Perceptions of Organizational Politics, a counterproductive phenomenon, but inherent in the very existence of institutions.

Objective

the purpose of this paper is to investigate how managers from different companies and with different Work Engagement levels face the presence of political behavior in their organizations.

Method

we performed cluster analysis with data from 1498 managers; The hypotheses were tested using multiple linear and nonlinear regression analyzes. The methodology includes descriptive statistics and ANOVA.

Results

in most cases, resilience, involvement and concentration, mitigates the perception of political behavior in the organizations. However, there was a paradigm shift among the highly engaged: Engagement impacted on the increase of Perceptions of Organizational Politics.

Conclusions

work Engagement and Perceptions of Organizational Politics has a curvilinear relationship, indicating that they are not necessarily antagonistic. The study indicates that emotionally and cognitively structured managers tend to increase their engagement even in the face of a heightened perception of a political ambience, revealing a positive perspective on management practices: fostering greater understanding and connection with the organizational environment will possibly yield more effective results than trying to restrain or neglect political behaviors. JEL Code: D72, G32, C2.

work engagement; perception of organizational politics; organizational behavior; nonlinear relationship

INTRODUCTION

Postmodern organizations are eminently political environments, influenced by flows of change and uncertainties in a system composed on the one hand of activities for common results and on the other by an arena disputed by groups with different interests (Brass, 2017Brass, D. J. (2017). Intraorganizational power and dependence. In J. A. C. Baum (Ed.), The Blackwell companion to organizations (Chap. 6, pp. 138-157). Oxford: Blackwell.; Jackson & Grace, 2018Jackson, M., Grace, D. (2018). Machiavelliana: The living machiavelli in modern mythologies. Boston: Brill.; Mintzberg, 1985)Mintzberg, H. (1985). The organization as political arena. Journal of Management Studies, 22(2), 133-154. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985.tb00069.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985...
. Managers of different levels are inserted in this panorama in which, from the power relations involved, there takes places games and tactics to influence, change, obtain and ensure interests inherent in the very existence of institutions (Kimura, 2015Kimura, T. (2015). A review of political skill: Current research trend and directions for future research. International Journal of Management Reviews, 17(3), 312-332. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12041
https://doi.org/10.1111/ijmr.12041...
; Mintzberg, 1985)Mintzberg, H. (1985). The organization as political arena. Journal of Management Studies, 22(2), 133-154. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985.tb00069.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985...
.

In recent decades, politics has been reported as a common phenomenon in the organizational world and even necessary to the survival of the institutions (Allen, Porter, & Angle, 2016; Buchanan, 2008Buchanan, D. A. (2008). You stab my back, I'll stab yours: Management experience and perceptions of organization political behaviour. British Journal of Management, 19(1), 49-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2007.00533.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2007...
; Hochwarter, Ferris, Laird, Treadway, & Coleman Gallagher, 2010). At the same time, the daily life of organizations, policy-related behaviors are perceived as unsanctioned activities, from backstage maneuvers and self-interest actions. As a consequence, the Perceptions of Organizational Politics (POP) are considered an ambiguous, stressful and dysfunctional aspect of the work environment, impacting team productivity (Abbas, Raja, Darr, & Bouckenooghe, 2014Abbas, M., Raja, U., Darr, W., Bouckenooghe, D. (2014). Combined effects of perceived politics and psychological capital on job satisfaction, turnover intentions, and performance. Journal of Management, 40(7), 1813-1830. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206312455243
https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206312455243...
; Bedi & Schat, 2013Bedi, A., Schat, A. C. H. (2013). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of its attitudinal, health, and behavioural consequences. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 54(4), 246-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549...
; Chang, Rosen, & Levy, 2009).

Considering the almost inexorable presence of politics in the life of organizations, this study, from the perspective of Positive Organizational Behavior (Luthans, Luthans, & Luthans, 2015), addresses the need to identify how positive factors relate to POP and thus support managerial actions and Human Resource Development research aimed at minimizing the negative aspects of POP and broadening the understanding of its intricacies. For this purpose, we will use the concept Work Engagement (WKE) at: a state in which professionals connect to their work activities through energetic, emotional and cognitive dimensions (Schaufeli, Bakker, & Salanova, 2006).

The argument developed here was not only focused on the positive versus negative relationship, because despite the predominance of results indicating the policy perceived as a stressor, the addition of other approaches fills gaps and expands research perspectives: studies indicate that, at the individual level, which appears as an obstacle for some, it can be seen as an opportunity by others, with different nuances, resulting in groups with different behaviors facing the same factor (LePine, Podsakoff, & LePine, 2005; Lu, Wang, Lu, Du, & Bakker, 2014; Meisler & Vigoda-Gadot, 2014Meisler, G., Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2014). Perceived organizational politics, emotional intelligence and work outcomes: Empirical exploration of direct and indirect effects. Personnel Review, 43(1), 116-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040
https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040...
; Perrewé, Rosen, & Maslach, 2012). Recently, the relationship between WKE and counterproductive aspects has still yielded inconclusive results (Reijseger, Peeters, Taris, & Schaufeli, 2017). Similarly, it is possible to identify inconsistencies regarding the negative effect of POP on labor factors (for a meta-analysis see Miller, Rutherford, & Kolodinsky, 2008).

Specifically regarding the study of organizational policy, most investigations in this area took place in Europe and the United States (Bedi & Schat, 2013Bedi, A., Schat, A. C. H. (2013). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of its attitudinal, health, and behavioural consequences. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 54(4), 246-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549...
; Rich, LePine, & Crawford, 2010). However, in emerging economies such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, there is a tendency to create informal arrangements that converge with the interests of specific groups, and to overlap with sanctioned norms (Ardichvili, Jondle, Kowske, Cornachione, Li & Thakadipuram, 2012). In the present research, the scenario is Brazil, where historically there is a context strongly affected by political behaviors (De Moraes, 2017De Moraes, R. M. (2017). Escala de percepção de política na organização: Adaptação e validação para o contexto brasileiro. Revista Eletrônica de Ciência Administrativa, 16(3), 197-212. https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012
https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012...
; Mansur & Sobral, 2011Mansur, J. A., Sobral, F. (2011). Política na terra do ‘jeitinho’: Consequências dos comportamentos políticos em organizações no Brasil. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 12(6), pp. 165-191. Retrieved from http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=195421147008
http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=19...
; Torres, Alfinito, Galvão, & Tse, 2015).

The purpose of this article is to investigate how managers of different companies with different levels of engagement face the presence of political behavior in their organizations. For further analysis, we explore the multidimensional characteristic of WKE and consider the hypothesis of curvilinear relationship.

In a context where the study of policy strength in the organizational environment is still taboo or approached in a secondary way (Mansur & Sobral, 2011Mansur, J. A., Sobral, F. (2011). Política na terra do ‘jeitinho’: Consequências dos comportamentos políticos em organizações no Brasil. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 12(6), pp. 165-191. Retrieved from http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=195421147008
http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=19...
; Miranda, 2009)Miranda, S. (2009). O tabu do poder e da política nos estudos organizacionais. Revista de Administração da UFSM, 2(1), 10-20. Retrieved from https://periodicos.ufsm.br/reaufsm/article/view/1262
https://periodicos.ufsm.br/reaufsm/artic...
, this research contributes as an alternative to the negative generalization of the phenomenon by conducting a nonlinear approach in its analysis and considering that politics can be perceived either as an obstacle or as an opportunity. The results of the WKE action against the POP also help to define the boundaries between promotion and mitigation of these two factors. The findings present a positive perspective on management practices, because they point out that fostering greater connection with the organizational environment will potentially yield more effective results than trying to curb political behavior or neglect it.

WORK ENGAGEMENT

In the Academia, WKE is a relatively new concept in human resource management research and has an identified approach in the field of Positive Organizational Behavior, which highlights the uplifting and positive aspects of the human personality, thus seeking to maintain the optimal functioning of the individual and, consequently, organizational management in this light (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Luthans et al., 2015Luthans, F., Luthans, B. C., Luthans, K. W. (2015). Organizational behavior: An evidence-based approach. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.; Schaufeli, 2012Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
).

It is a state of mind composed of three dimensions: Vigor, Absorption, and Dedication. The Vigor dimension is characterized by high levels of mental energy, strong resilience at work and a persistent willingness to put effort into tasks even in adverse situations, allowing the individual to deal with problems, overcome obstacles or resist everyday pressure (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Schaufeli, 2012Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
; Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, & Bakker, 2002). The emotional factor Dedication refers to being strongly involved in one's task, thus experiencing a sense of significance, enthusiasm, inspiration, pride and challenge (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Schaufeli et al., 2002)Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness studies, 3(1), 71-92. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326...
. Finally, the cognitive dimension Absorption is characterized by a state in which one is fully concentrated and pleasantly absorbed in one’s work (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Schaufeli et al., 2002)Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness studies, 3(1), 71-92. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326...
. Under this condition, the degree of absorption causes the individual to experience the sensation that time passes quickly, fluidly and cannot seem to easily disconnect from work (Schaufeli et al., 2002Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness studies, 3(1), 71-92. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326...
; Schaufeli, 2012)Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
.

Important implications of WKE are linked to high level of commitment, job satisfaction, low absenteeism and strong motivation to learn (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career Development International, 13(3), 209-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430810870476
https://doi.org/10.1108/1362043081087047...
, 2017Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E. (2017). Job demands–resources theory: Taking stock and looking forward. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 22(3), 273-285. https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000056
https://doi.org/10.1037/ocp0000056...
; Rich et al., 2010)Rich, B. L., Lepine, J. A., Crawford, E. R. (2010). Job engagement: Antecedents and effects on job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 53(3), 617-635. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.51468988
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.5146898...
. All of the characteristics described above allow us to infer that by their very nature, engaged individuals have enough positive emotions, energy, and personal resources to cope with the tension and stress of everyday life, allowing them to minimize their problems or face a challenge which is usually considered an obstacle (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career Development International, 13(3), 209-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430810870476
https://doi.org/10.1108/1362043081087047...
; Crawford, LePine, & Rich, 2010; De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017)De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
.

PERCEPTIONS OF ORGANIZATIONAL POLITICS

This study approaches the POP from the following perspective: perception of actions whose result will bring own benefit or for a group and that, from the social and organizational aspect, are considered illegitimate mainly because they do not consider the resulting negative to the other parties (Lepisto & Pratt, 2012Lepisto, D. A., Pratt, M. G (2012). Politics in perspectives: On the theoretical challenges and opportunities in studying organizational politics. In G. R. Ferris, & D. C. Treadway (Eds.), Politics in organizations (Chap. 3, pp. 101-132). New York: Routledge.; Mintzberg, 1985)Mintzberg, H. (1985). The organization as political arena. Journal of Management Studies, 22(2), 133-154. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985.tb00069.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.1985...
.

In a seminal survey, Madison, Allen, Porter, Renwick and Mayes (1980)Madison, D. L., Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Renwick, P. A., Mayes, B. T. (1980). Organizational politics: An exploration of managers’ perceptions. Human Relations, 33(2), 79-100. https://doi.org/10.1177/001872678003300201
https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726780033002...
pointed out that managers perceived political activity related to power and uncertainty, but also considered it as an important issue for organizations and individuals. The presence of politics as a system of influence inherent in the various types of institutions is recurrently investigated from the perspective of employees' dysfunctional perception of the phenomenon and its negative impacts (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Bedi & Schat, 2013Bedi, A., Schat, A. C. H. (2013). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of its attitudinal, health, and behavioural consequences. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 54(4), 246-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549...
; Miller et al., 2008)Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-5
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-...
. Regarding those resulting from the POP, we can highlight: strong negative relationship with job satisfaction and affective commitment; restrictive effect on task performance; reduction in employee dedication (Chang et al., 2009Chang, C.-H., Rosen, C. C., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain, and behavior: A meta-analytic examination. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 779-801. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.43670894
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.4367089...
; Mansur & Sobral, 2011Mansur, J. A., Sobral, F. (2011). Política na terra do ‘jeitinho’: Consequências dos comportamentos políticos em organizações no Brasil. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 12(6), pp. 165-191. Retrieved from http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=195421147008
http://www.redalyc.org/articulo.oa?id=19...
; Miller et al., 2008)Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-5
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-...
.

In the Brazilian context, there are indications that the presence and effects of organizational policy are known and practiced at various levels of organizations, as the cultural values of the country in many cases strengthen the position of individuals from the policy and, at the same time, soften its characterization as a negative phenomenon (Chu & Wood, 2008Chu, R. A., & Wood, T. Jr. (2008). Cultura organizacional brasileira pós-globalização: Global ou local? Revista de Administração Pública, 42(5), 969-994. Retrieved from http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/index.php/rap/article/view/6661
http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/inde...
; Torres et al., 2015)Torres, C. V., Alfinito, S., Galvão, C. A. D. S. P., Tse, B. C. Y. (2015). Brazilian jeitinho versus Chinese guanxi: Investigating their informal influence on international business. RAM. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 16(4), 77-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/administracao.v16n4p77-99
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/...
, enabling managers involved in institutionally sanctioned political activities to bring benefits to the groups with which they relate and to the organization as a whole (Fedor, Maslyn, Farmer, & Bettenhausen, 2008Fedor, D., Maslyn, J., Farmer, S., Bettenhausen, K. (2008). The contribution of positive politics to the prediction of employee reactions. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38(1), 76-96. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008.00297.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2008...
).

However, politics can be perceived in different ways: as a result of emotional or cognitive variations, depending on how one looks at opportunity or obstacle, or cultural differences (Meisler & Vigoda-Gadot, 2014Meisler, G., Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2014). Perceived organizational politics, emotional intelligence and work outcomes: Empirical exploration of direct and indirect effects. Personnel Review, 43(1), 116-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040
https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040...
; Perrewé et al., 2012Perrewé, P. L., Rosen, C. C., Maslach, C. (2012). Organizational politics and stress: The development of a process model. In G. R. Ferris, & D. C. Treadway (Eds.), Politics in organizations: Theory and research considerations (Chap. 8, pp. 247-290). New York: Routledge.; Vigoda, 2001)Vigoda, E. (2001). Reactions to organizational politics: A cross-cultural examination in Israel and Britain. Human Relations, 54(11), 1483-1518. https://doi.org/10.1177/00187267015411004
https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726701541100...
.

Managers play a key role in organizational change and are very closely linked to power and its tactics (Buchanan, 2008Buchanan, D. A. (2008). You stab my back, I'll stab yours: Management experience and perceptions of organization political behaviour. British Journal of Management, 19(1), 49-64. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2007.00533.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8551.2007...
; Hope, 2010Hope, O. (2010). The politics of middle management sensemaking and sensegiving. Journal of Change Management, 10(2), 195-215. https://doi.org/10.1080/14697011003795669
https://doi.org/10.1080/1469701100379566...
). The search for hierarchical positions propels attitudes toward approaching the centers of power and control, where decision-making processes occur, usually susceptible to political influence (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Atinc, Darrat, Fuller, & Parker, 2010Atinc, G., Darrat, M., Fuller, B., Parker, B. W. (2010). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of theoretical antecedents. Journal of Managerial Issues, 22(4), 494-513. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/25822527
http://www.jstor.org/stable/25822527...
). Few important decisions are made without key parties protecting or enhancing their interests (Kreutzer, Walter, & Cardinal, 2015Kreutzer, M., Walter, J., Cardinal, L. B. (2015). Organizational control as antidote to politics in the pursuit of strategic initiatives. Strategic Management Journal, 36(9), 1317-1337. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2306
https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.2306...
). From this follows the perception that the political dimension is a phenomenon existing at the managerial levels or strongly associated with those who seek to climb positions in this direction, regardless of the means used (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Chang et al., 2009)Chang, C.-H., Rosen, C. C., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain, and behavior: A meta-analytic examination. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 779-801. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.43670894
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.4367089...
.

As can be seen, the challenge of capturing the perception of political behavior in organizations is linked to the ambiguity, subjectivity and controversy of the subject (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Miller et al., 2008Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-5
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-...
). Depending on each observer's previous experiences, personal career goals, gender and group of which he / she is a member, the same behavior may be considered political or not (Ferris, Frink, Bhawuk, Zhou, & Gilmore, 1996Ferris, G. R., Frink, D. D., Bhawuk, D. P. S., Zhou, J., Gilmore, D. C. (1996). Reactions of diverse groups to politics in the workplace. Journal of Management, 22(1), 23-44. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639602200102
https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206396022001...
; Kacmar, Bachrach, Harris, & Zivnuska, 2011Kacmar, K. M., Bachrach, D. G., Harris, K. J., Zivnuska, S. (2011). Fostering good citizenship through ethical leadership: Exploring the moderating role of gender and organizational politics. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(3), 633-642. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021872
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0021872...
; Kacmar, Bozeman, Carlson, & Anthony, 1999Kacmar, K. M., Bozeman, D. P., Carlson, D. S., Anthony, W. P. (1999). An examination of the perceptions of organizational politics model: Replication and extension. Human Relations, 52(3), 383-416. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512...
) or even be seen as enabling organizational objectives and a mechanism to protect specific interests (Russo, Rodrigues, Russo, & Yu, 2018Russo, R. F. S. M., Rodrigues, F., Russo, R., Yu, A. S. O. (2018). Comportamento político nas organizações: Mecanismos de intervenção. Revista Eletrônica de Ciência Administrativa, 17(3), 295-315. https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2018012
https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2018012...
).

HYPOTHESIS FORMULATION

As reviewed earlier, although prevalent in research, negative links between POP and productive factors are not a consensus. Thus, the development of this study considers that the association of a positive state with a negative perception can generate a much less linear and generalized combination of complexity than traditional organizational research (Warr, 2011Warr, P. B. (2011). Work, happiness, and unhappiness. London: Psychology Press.). From this nonlinear point of view and considering the importance of variability in analysis levels when dealing with complex characteristics (De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
; Nishii & Wright, 2008)Nishii, L. H., Wright, P. M. (2008). Variability within organizations: Implications for strategic human resources management. In D. B. Smith (Ed.), LEA’s organization and management series. The people make the place: Dynamic linkages between individuals and organizations (pp. 225-248). New York: Taylor & Francis Group/Lawrence Erlbaum Associates., the hypotheses were segmented into groups with low, intermediate and high WKE levels, as described below.

We first used the WKE dimensions in the hypothesis test, which allowed a deeper understanding of the structuring factors of this concept in relation to the dependent variable (POP), thus avoiding loss of information (Seppälä et al., 2009Seppälä, P., Mauno, S., Feldt, T., Hakanen, J., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., Schaufeli, W. (2009). The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(4), 459. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9100-y
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9100-...
). This practice aims to provide subsidies for subsequent analyzes to use consolidated WKE on a non-linear basis (Schaufeli et al., 2006Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66(4), 701-716. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164405282471
https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164405282471...
; Seppälä et al., 2009Seppälä, P., Mauno, S., Feldt, T., Hakanen, J., Kinnunen, U., Tolvanen, A., Schaufeli, W. (2009). The construct validity of the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale: Multisample and longitudinal evidence. Journal of Happiness Studies, 10(4), 459. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9100-y
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10902-008-9100-...
).

The first two groups of hypotheses adopt the Positive Organizational Behavior perspective, where the focus is on positive values and not the traditional negative/problematic approach (Luthans et al., 2015Luthans, F., Luthans, B. C., Luthans, K. W. (2015). Organizational behavior: An evidence-based approach. Charlotte: Information Age Publishing.). Since engaged employees have enough attributes to focus efforts on their activities and reduce the effect of adversity (Rich et al., 2010Rich, B. L., Lepine, J. A., Crawford, E. R. (2010). Job engagement: Antecedents and effects on job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 53(3), 617-635. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.51468988
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2010.5146898...
; Schaufeli, 2012Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
), a WKE mitigating effect can be expected from POP, thus allowing a negative association between these attributes and POP:

Hypothesis 1: The dimension VIGOR (H1a), DEDICATION (H1b) and ABSORPTION (H1c) are negatively related to POP in a group with low WKE score.

As an extension of the previous argument, and considering that resource stocks of those engaged have a cumulative effect on their ability to respond to recurring obstacles (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Reijseger et al., 2017Reijseger, G., Peeters, M. C., Taris, T. W., Schaufeli, W. B. (2017). From motivation to activation: Why engaged workers are better performers. Journal of Business and Psychology, 32(2), 117-130. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9435-z
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-016-9435-...
), we can also propose that with an increase in the level of WKE, the strength of the negative relationship between its dimensions and the POP is greater:

Hypothesis 2: In the group with intermediate WKE score, the negative relationship between the dimensions VIGOR (H2a), DEDICATION (H2b), ABSORPTION (H2c) and POP has greater magnitude than the low WKE score group.

However, highly engaged employees have sufficiently strong energetic, cognitive and emotional conditions to develop a strong connection and understanding of their environment (Bakker & Demerouti, 2008Bakker, A. B., Demerouti, E. (2008). Towards a model of work engagement. Career Development International, 13(3), 209-223. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430810870476
https://doi.org/10.1108/1362043081087047...
; Christian, Garza, & Slaughter, 2011Christian, M. S., Garza, A. S., Slaughter, J. E. (2011). Work engagement: A quantitative review and test of its relations with task and contextual performance. Personnel Psychology, 64(1), 89-136. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010.01203.x
https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010...
), which allows a greater perception of stressors, without prejudice to the positive characteristics they bring with them, as they treat obstacles as opportunities (Crawford et al., 2010Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 834-848. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019364
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019364...
; De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
; Kane-Frieder, Hochwarter, & Ferris, 2014). This line of argument can be translated into positive relationships between WKE dimensions and POP:

Hypothesis 3: In the group with high WKE score, the relationship between the dimensions VIGOR (H3a), DEDICATION (H3b), ABSORPTION (H3c) and the POP is positive.

Finally, by contrasting H1 and H2 with H3, it is possible to identify that the literature supports two paths: on the one hand a traditional negative association between productive factors and stressors (Bedi & Schat, 2013Bedi, A., Schat, A. C. H. (2013). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of its attitudinal, health, and behavioural consequences. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 54(4), 246-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549...
; Chang et al., 2009Chang, C.-H., Rosen, C. C., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain, and behavior: A meta-analytic examination. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 779-801. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.43670894
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.4367089...
; Miller et al., 2008)Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-5
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-...
and on the other the ability of the highly engaged to deal with such adversities, resulting in a positive association in reverse (Crawford et al., 2010Crawford, E. R., LePine, J. A., Rich, B. L. (2010). Linking job demands and resources to employee engagement and burnout: A theoretical extension and meta-analytic test. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(5), 834-848. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019364
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0019364...
; Kane-Frieder et al., 2014)Kane-Frieder, R. E., Hochwarter, W. A., Ferris, G. R. (2014). Terms of engagement: Political boundaries of work engagement – work outcomes relationships. Human Relations, 67(3), 357-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068
https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068...
. This contradiction leaves a gap about the explanatory power of linear approaches when confronting concepts of Organizational Behavior. Given this, we hypothesized that a curvilinear model may be more appropriate to demonstrate the general relationship between the WKE and POP constructs:

Hypothesis 4: WKE and POP present a positive quadratic curvilinear relationship (H4).

METHOD

Sample and procedure

The sample is represented by managers registered with a Regional Council of Administration (RCA) of a Brazilian state. Data collection was supported by RCA, which institutionally sent 9351 registered administrators an invitation to participate in the survey. In relation to the total number of Brazilian administrators registered in the Boards, the studied RCA represents 4.23%. On the institution's website a link was available to access the electronic questionnaire. Over three months, in three RCA newsletters, the invitation was reiterated. We obtained 1498 valid answers for the study. The choice to search only RCA administrators and affiliates was for two reasons: primarily because it is a training area that, possibly by its nature, would have respondents acting at some level of management, object of this study; the second criterion was the accessibility afforded by RCA support, which potentially expanded the collection, allowing direct access to professionals from different companies. We only use data from private sector respondents who self-declared to be positioned at some hierarchical level of management. The average time in the company was 7 years; all have an undergraduate degree and 54.2% have a degree; the average age was 34 years old. Most operate in the service sector, small and medium-sized businesses in general administration, finance, business and human resources. Table 1 presents the other data of the sample characterization.

Table 1
Respondent profile.

Ethical issues

The procedures for this study were reviewed and approved by the Ifes Human Research Ethics Committee (CEP/Ifes), linked to the National Research Ethics Commission of the Brazilian Ministry of Health - CONEP/MS (Brasil, 2017Brasil. (2017). Ministério da Educação. Instituto Federal do Espírito Santo – CEP Ifes. Retrieved from https://www.ifes.edu.br/conselhos-comissoes/comite-de-etica-em-pesquisa-do-ifes
https://www.ifes.edu.br/conselhos-comiss...
). The project of this study is registered in CONEP/MS under CAAE (Ethical Appreciation Presentation Certificate) number 47091015.1.0000.5072 from September 16, 2015. The committee pointed out that in the research participants' interests were respected in their integrity and dignity and that the proposal is within scientific ethical standards.

About this process, it can be highlighted that the respondents were guaranteed: that it was voluntary participation, that responses would be anonymous and confidential, and that data processing would take place in aggregate. Participants had access to an Informed Consent Form (ICF) with the necessary information to decide whether or not to participate.

Measures

Work Engagement (WKE): We use the nine-item version of Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-9) with three items for each dimension of the concept (Schaufeli et al., 2006Schaufeli, W. B., Bakker, A. B., Salanova, M. (2006). The measurement of work engagement with a short questionnaire: A cross-national study. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 66(4), 701-716. https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164405282471
https://doi.org/10.1177/0013164405282471...
), validated to Portuguese by Agnst, Benevies-Pereira and Porto-Martins (2009). It is a seven-point scale ranging from 1 (“Never/ Not once”) to 7 ("Always/every day”). Examples of items are: “In my work, I feel full of energy” and “I am proud of the work I do”. In this study, the internal consistency coefficients were 0.868 for vigor, 0.897 for dedication, 0.904 for absorption and 0.886 for WKE.

Perceptions of Organizational Politics (POP): We used the Perceptions of Organizational Politics Scale for Brazil (POPS-Br), with 6 items (De Moraes, 2017De Moraes, R. M. (2017). Escala de percepção de política na organização: Adaptação e validação para o contexto brasileiro. Revista Eletrônica de Ciência Administrativa, 16(3), 197-212. https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012
https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012...
). The response format was a 5-point agreement scale, ranging from 1 (“Strongly disagree”) to 5 (“I totally agree”). Item examples: “Many employees use ploys to join groups” and “People are working behind the scenes to secure their space”. The scale presented a good reliability of internal coherence (α=0.812).

Control Variables: hierarchical level as manager (1-initial; 2-intermediary; 3-high), gender (1-female; 2-male) and job tenure (in years). It was deemed necessary to include them in the regressions given the possible covariations with the variables focused in this study. In addition, previous research suggests this possibility (Kacmar et al., 1999Kacmar, K. M., Bozeman, D. P., Carlson, D. S., Anthony, W. P. (1999). An examination of the perceptions of organizational politics model: Replication and extension. Human Relations, 52(3), 383-416. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512...
; Kane-Frieder et al., 2014Kane-Frieder, R. E., Hochwarter, W. A., Ferris, G. R. (2014). Terms of engagement: Political boundaries of work engagement – work outcomes relationships. Human Relations, 67(3), 357-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068
https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068...
; Schaufeli, 2012Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
).

Analysis Strategy

Initially, to perform the analysis between the groups with low, medium and high WKE scores it was necessary to identify in relation to the sample, the existence of groups with such characteristics. We opted for a cluster analysis in two steps (sequential grouping followed by hierarchical method), more suitable for larger samples (Garson, 2014Garson, G. (2014). Cluster analysis: 2014 edition (statistical associates blue book series 24). Asheboro, NC: Statistical Associates Publishing.). This process included the latent variables of the study to identify natural clusters and reduce the error of combined variability. A One-way ANOVA verified statistical significance between group mean differences. For further details of this approach, we suggest the work by Sarsted and Mooi (2014).

To test H1a,b,c, H2a,b,c and H3a,b,c, we sought to identify the magnitude and type of association between the dimensions of WKE (independent variables) and POP (dependent variable). Multiple regressions were conducted in each of the cluster analysis groups. Equation (1) considers the independent variables VIGOR, DEDICATION and ABSORPTION and the control variables HIERARCHICAL LEVEL, GENDER and JOB TENURE. The dependent variable YPOP represents the policy perception in the analyzed group; the term ε represents the experimental error and β0 the regression constant.

For the test of H4, we also consider the control variables. A hierarchical regression was applied to the total sample with WKE independent variables (consolidated score) in the first step and the quadratic component (WKE2) in the second step, according to the model presented in equation (2). For further details of these procedures, we suggest Cohen, West and Aiken (2014)Cohen, P., West, S. G., Aiken, L. S. (2014). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York: Psychology Press..

Y P P O = β 0 + β 1 H I E R A R C H I C A L L E V E L + β 2 G E N D E R + β 3 C O M P A N Y T I M E + β 4 V I G O R + β 5 D E D I C A T I O N + β 6 A B S O R P T I O N + ε . (1)
Y P P O = β 0 + β 1 H I E R A R C H I C A L L E V E L + β 2 G E N D E R + β 3 C O M P A N Y T I M E + β 4 W K E + β 5 W K E 2 + ε . (2)

ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION OF RESULTS

Table 2 shows the standard deviations (SD) and Mean results (M) of latent variables according to the clusters resulting from cluster analysis, as well as the total sample. It can be seen from the F-statistic of the comparison between groups that the differences in cluster mean are highly significant (p<0.001).

Table 2
One-way ANOVA and Descriptive Statistics.

The agglomeration process identified blocks with very distinct characteristics in terms of Engagement: Cluster 1 represents 27.30% of the sample, highlighting the WKE variable with a mean (M = 2.53) well below the midpoint of the scale (4) and still below the sample mean (M = 4.52). At the other extreme, cluster 3, with 19.89% of the sample, had a very high medium WKE (M = 6.41), very close to the upper limit of the scale (7), and a considerably low standard deviation (SD = 0.36) indicating that in this group the data show homogeneity regarding this construct. With the largest number of individuals (52.80% of the sample), cluster 2 has characteristics representative of a more normal position in which the mean indicates regularly engaged respondents, tending often to (SD = 0.58 and M = 4.73). The difference between the WKE standard deviation of the total sample (SD = 1.51) and of clusters (0.63; 0.58; 0.36), coupled with the large difference in averages, makes it possible to access critical levels of engagement, as proposed by Bakker, Albrecht and Leiter (2011)Bakker, A. B., Albrecht, S. L., Leiter, M. P. (2011). Work engagement: Further reflections on the state of play. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 20(1), 74-88. https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2010.546711
https://doi.org/10.1080/1359432X.2010.54...
.

In clusters 2 and 3 the DEDICATION variable obtained means higher than the other WKE dimensions, signaling that the emotional factor has a relevant weight in building engagement in these groups. This finding is consistent with proposals that situate emotions as the basis for the development of intellectual and psychological factors, needed to respond to environmental demands (Meisler & Vigoda-Gadot, 2014Meisler, G., Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2014). Perceived organizational politics, emotional intelligence and work outcomes: Empirical exploration of direct and indirect effects. Personnel Review, 43(1), 116-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040
https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040...
; Smollan, 2014)Smollan, R. K. (2014). Control and the emotional rollercoaster of organizational change. International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 22(3), 399-419. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-08-2012-0609
https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-08-2012-060...
.

The total sample and clusters presented a high POP, considering that the maximum point of the scale is five, however, these private initiative scores were lower than those recently found for the Brazilian public sector (De Moraes, 2017De Moraes, R. M. (2017). Escala de percepção de política na organização: Adaptação e validação para o contexto brasileiro. Revista Eletrônica de Ciência Administrativa, 16(3), 197-212. https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012
https://doi.org/10.21529/RECADM.2017012...
; De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
). The standard deviations of POP found in the data set and in the three groups (SD = 0.78; SD = 0.62; SD = 0.63 and SD = 0.40) indicate a consensus reinforcing previous studies that treat politics as an inherent factor (Kane-Frieder et al., 2014Kane-Frieder, R. E., Hochwarter, W. A., Ferris, G. R. (2014). Terms of engagement: Political boundaries of work engagement – work outcomes relationships. Human Relations, 67(3), 357-382. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068
https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726713495068...
; Parker, Dipboye, & Jackson, 1995Parker, C. P., Dipboye, R. L., Jackson, S. L. (1995). Perceptions of organizational politics: An investigation of antecedents and consequences. Journal of Management, 21(5), 891-912. https://doi.org/10.1177/014920639502100505
https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206395021005...
) and empirically supporting the notion that in the Brazilian case the phenomenon is highly widespread (Chu & Wood, 2008Chu, R. A., & Wood, T. Jr. (2008). Cultura organizacional brasileira pós-globalização: Global ou local? Revista de Administração Pública, 42(5), 969-994. Retrieved from http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/index.php/rap/article/view/6661
http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/inde...
; Torres et al., 2015)Torres, C. V., Alfinito, S., Galvão, C. A. D. S. P., Tse, B. C. Y. (2015). Brazilian jeitinho versus Chinese guanxi: Investigating their informal influence on international business. RAM. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 16(4), 77-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/administracao.v16n4p77-99
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/...
.

As for the multiple regressions, their assumptions and robustness tests were applied to each of the analyzed clusters, since the first three hypothesis groups were also presented in a segmented form, as shown in Table 3:

Table 3
Regression model analysis.

In the three groups the determination coefficients (R2) adjusted indicate a good fit of the model, as other POP antecedents are recognized, such as centralization, hierarchy and absence of rules (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Kacmar et al., 1999Kacmar, K. M., Bozeman, D. P., Carlson, D. S., Anthony, W. P. (1999). An examination of the perceptions of organizational politics model: Replication and extension. Human Relations, 52(3), 383-416. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1016949222512...
). Variance inflation factors (VIF) were below 5, indicating no multicollinearity problems between the independent variables (Hair, Black, Babin, Anderson, & Tatham, 2006). With the Durbin-Watson statistic close to 2 in all clusters, it was found that adjacent observation errors are not correlated (Hair et al., 2006)Hair, J. F., Black, W. C., Babin, B. J., Anderson, R. E., Tatham, R. L. (2006). Multivariate data analysis (vol. 6). Upper Saddle River: Pearson Prentice Hall. For all cases Anova was highly significant, no heteroscedasticity problems were detected (BP not significant) and, regarding the residuals, there was no significant influence of outliers (Di <1) in the set of predictor variables (Chatterjee & Hadi, 2015Chatterjee, S., Hadi, A. S. (2015). Regression analysis by example. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.; Kaufman, 2013)Kaufman, R. L. (2013). Heteroskedasticity in regression: Detection and correction. London: Sage Publications.. The solidity of the data presented in Table 3 allows us to conduct the regression analysis that supports the hypothesis tests from the standardized coefficients (β) multivariate regressions described in Table 4:

Table 4
Coefficients of multivariate regressions.

Considering the significance levels and negative values of beta coefficients for cluster 1 regression (Low WKE), it is identified that the first hypotheses (H1a,b,c) were supported. The three independent variables matched the relative importance in predicting POP. The negative associations presented confirm, in the private sector, the mitigating force of the WKE dimensions against the POP, also identified in the public sector (De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
), as well as the ability of those engaged to face adversity (Schaufeli, 2012)Schaufeli, W. B. (2012). Work engagement: What do we know and where do we go? Romanian Journal of Applied Psychology, 14(1), 3-10. Retrieved from http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download/rjap141_1.pdf
http://www.rjap.psihologietm.ro/Download...
, reinforcing the frequent negative association between productive factors and POP (Bedi & Schat, 2013Bedi, A., Schat, A. C. H. (2013). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of its attitudinal, health, and behavioural consequences. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 54(4), 246-259. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0034549...
; Chang et al., 2009Chang, C.-H., Rosen, C. C., & Levy, P. E. (2009). The relationship between perceptions of organizational politics and employee attitudes, strain, and behavior: A meta-analytic examination. Academy of Management Journal, 52(4), 779-801. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.43670894
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2009.4367089...
; Miller et al., 2008)Miller, B. K., Rutherford, M. A., Kolodinsky, R. W. (2008). Perceptions of organizational politics: A meta-analysis of outcomes. Journal of Business and Psychology, 22(3), 209-222. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-5
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-008-9061-...
.

In the group with medium WKE, the relative influence of the variables VIGOR (β = -0.32) and ABSORPTION (β = -0.37) are larger than in cluster 1 (β = -0.25 and β = -0.25, respectively), supporting H2a and H2c. Thus, in the largest study cluster, with the lowest perception of politics, there is an indication, with a high level of significance, that the resilience and concentration of those engaged significantly impact the reduction of the POP. However, H2b was not confirmed by a significant beta, but positive for the DEDICATION variable. Thus, the emotional component no longer impacts POP reduction among mid-level WKE employees. This is a relevant change regarding the transition of individuals’ interpretation of politics as an obstacle and, furthermore, indicative of the reversal that will occur in the next cluster.

In the estimation of the high WKE group, the betas were positive, but only the DEDICATION and ABSORPTION variables showed statistically significant results, supporting H3b and H3c. The result of this cluster provides evidence that there is a break in the negative relationship between WKE and POP when it comes to groups of managers who are highly engaged in their activities. In this grouping all dimensions of WKE and POP presented high means (Table 2) which together with the results of the regressions, supports studies such as Crawford, LePine amd Rich (2010); and Kane-Frieder, Hochwarter and Ferris (2014) which indicated that highly engaged employees perceive stressors positively, turning this into a challenge or opportunity.

Regarding the positive association between DEDICATION and POP present in cluster 3, it is important to highlight that this independent variable is the emotional factor of WKE, imbued with the senses of enthusiasm, pride and challenge (Gagné, 2014Gagné, M. (Ed.). (2014). The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory. New York: Oxford Library of Psychology.; Schaufeli et al., 2002Schaufeli, W. B., Salanova, M., González-Romá, V., Bakker, A. B. (2002). The measurement of engagement and burnout: A two sample confirmatory factor analytic approach. Journal of Happiness studies, 3(1), 71-92. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326
https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1015630930326...
). It is argued that at the interpersonal level emotions are used strategically as a mechanism of influence and at the group level as fostering coalitions, with indications that some individuals who genuinely enjoy the political game use these practices (Allen et al., 2016Allen, R. W., Porter, L. W., Angle, H. L. (2016). Organizational influence processes. New York: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614
https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315290614...
; Meisler & Vigoda-Gadot, 2014Meisler, G., Vigoda-Gadot, E. (2014). Perceived organizational politics, emotional intelligence and work outcomes: Empirical exploration of direct and indirect effects. Personnel Review, 43(1), 116-135. https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040
https://doi.org/10.1108/PR-02-2012-0040...
). Regarding the positive relationship presented by the cognitive aspect (ABSORPTION), it is argued that managers may regard POP as a challenging requirement of their organizations, developing mechanisms for approximation and acceptance of organizational policy. This challenge can generate a defense strategy: acknowledging a threat to their well-being, the employee engages to control or change the situation (LePine et al., 2005LePine, J. A., Podsakoff, N. P., LePine, M. A. (2005). A meta-analytic test of the challenge stressor–hindrance stressor framework: An explanation for inconsistent relationships among stressors and performance. Academy of Management Journal, 48(5), 764-775. https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2005.18803921
https://doi.org/10.5465/amj.2005.1880392...
; Perrewé et al., 2012)Perrewé, P. L., Rosen, C. C., Maslach, C. (2012). Organizational politics and stress: The development of a process model. In G. R. Ferris, & D. C. Treadway (Eds.), Politics in organizations: Theory and research considerations (Chap. 8, pp. 247-290). New York: Routledge..

It can also be highlighted that in the high WKE grouping there was a positive relationship between the Hierarchical Level control variable and the POP, providing evidence that as the hierarchical position increases and therefore the proximity to the centers of power, policy perception is broadened without necessarily undermining engagement.

Managers who have a high degree of understanding and control over the political process are likely to see politics as an opportunity for growth, this characteristic is present in other stressors from the workplace as the ambiguity and uncertainty (Eldor, 2017Eldor, L. (2017). Looking on the bright side: The positive role of organisational politics in the relationship between employee engagement and performance at work. Applied Psychology, 66(2), 233-259. https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12090
https://doi.org/10.1111/apps.12090...
; Lu et al., 2014Lu, C.-Q., Wang, H.-J., Lu, J.-J., Du, D.-Y., & Bakker, A. B. (2014). Does work engagement increase person–job fit? The role of job crafting and job insecurity. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 84(2), 142-152. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2013.12.004
https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jvb.2013.12.00...
; Perrewé et al., 2012Perrewé, P. L., Rosen, C. C., Maslach, C. (2012). Organizational politics and stress: The development of a process model. In G. R. Ferris, & D. C. Treadway (Eds.), Politics in organizations: Theory and research considerations (Chap. 8, pp. 247-290). New York: Routledge.). In this kind of reaction to adversity, approached by psychology as positive stress (or eustress), the individual goes through an activation and is compelled to adapt to a situation interpreted as a challenge, generating as a result courage, vigor, productivity and creativity (Perrewé et al., 2012Perrewé, P. L., Rosen, C. C., Maslach, C. (2012). Organizational politics and stress: The development of a process model. In G. R. Ferris, & D. C. Treadway (Eds.), Politics in organizations: Theory and research considerations (Chap. 8, pp. 247-290). New York: Routledge.).

By comparing the behavior of the dimensions across the three groupings, it was shown that a homogeneous treatment, without identifying clusters, would ignore significant subgroups for analysis. From the regressions of the three clusters, it is possible to verify if the interaction between the WKE consolidated factor and the POP will be better explained as a curvilinear relationship, as shown in Table 5.

Table 5
Results of quadratic component regressions.

As can be seen in the nonlinear model, the coefficient β (-0.051) is negative and significant while the quadratic term for WKE was positive (β = 0.205) and significant, supporting H4. In fact, the curvilinear regression model explains a larger proportion of the variance. Figure 1 illustrates this positive quadratic nonlinear association (U-shaped form):

Figure 1
Estimation curve WKE x POP (linear function x quadratic function).

This figure demonstrates the nonlinear relationship between WKE and POP. WKE influences the reduction of POP in most of the observation, but at high levels it contributes to the increase of the Perceptions of Politics (ascending part of the curve). Source: research data.

It is noticed that the mitigating effect of WKE against POP acts in most of the observation, however, as accompanied by the description of clusters, the concepts are not wholly antagonistic as one might suggest an exclusively linear relational form. The behavior of dimensions in hypothesis tests contributes to support this proposition. The rising segment of the curve can be explained by the remarkable presence of politics in Brazilian organizations (De Moraes & Teixeira, 2017De Moraes, R. M., & Teixeira, A. J. C. (2017). When engagement meets politics: Analysis of a Brazilian public institution. Public Organization Review, 17(4), 495-508. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-3
https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-016-0353-...
; Torres et al., 2015)Torres, C. V., Alfinito, S., Galvão, C. A. D. S. P., Tse, B. C. Y. (2015). Brazilian jeitinho versus Chinese guanxi: Investigating their informal influence on international business. RAM. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 16(4), 77-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/administracao.v16n4p77-99
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/...
, where the perception of the phenomenon can signal a stimulus for engagement for those with political skills and personal or organizational growth (Hochwarter et al., 2010Hochwarter, W. A., Ferris, G. R., Laird, M. D., Treadway, D. C., & Coleman Gallagher, V. (2010). Nonlinear politics perceptions-work outcomes relationships: A three-study, five-sample investigation. Journal of Management, 36(3), 740-763. https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206308324065
https://doi.org/10.1177/0149206308324065...
; Munyon, Summers, Thompson, & Ferris, 2015Munyon, T. P., Summers, J. K., Thompson, K. M., Ferris, G. R. (2015). Political skill and work outcomes: A theoretical extension, meta-analytic investigation, and agenda for the future. Personnel Psychology, 68(1), 143-184. https://doi.org/10.1111/peps.12066
https://doi.org/10.1111/peps.12066...
). In such scenarios, political activities may be socially sanctioned or targeted, depending on cultural traits (Chu & Wood, 2008)Chu, R. A., & Wood, T. Jr. (2008). Cultura organizacional brasileira pós-globalização: Global ou local? Revista de Administração Pública, 42(5), 969-994. Retrieved from http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/index.php/rap/article/view/6661
http://bibliotecadigital.fgv.br/ojs/inde...
.

CONCLUSIONS

Based on a large and heterogeneous sample of managers, this study investigated the relationship between Work Engagement and Perceptions of Organizational Politics constructs. For further analysis, the following paths were followed: first, groups with low, medium and high WKE were identified; subsequently, hierarchical regressions were conducted in each of these groups to test the effect of the WKE constituent dimensions (Vigor, Dedication and Absorption) compared to the POP and, finally, we verified with the total sample the hypothesis of a curvilinear relation between the consolidated constructs.

The WKE's path through a positive quadratic nonlinear association with the POP brings to light the existence of a turning point in the relationship between the two concepts studied and signals to what extent actors begin to adjust their organizational roles: first, in groups of managers with low and medium engagement, WKE had a mitigating role against POP. However, this does not mean that the politics inherent in organizations will necessarily be reduced, but that in most cases, with resilience, involvement and concentration it is possible to less experience this perception, typically pointed to as detrimental to performance. Subsequently, this paradigm is broken when a high association between WKE and POP has been identified in the high engagement groups, flexing the curve upwards.

By addressing the results of the Low and Medium WKE groups from the perspective of Positive Organizational Behavior, it is possible to suggest that fostering the dimensions of the WKE may have more effective consequences than attempts to curb political behavior, as it is a natural phenomenon, subject to ambiguity and viewpoint variations. It is noteworthy that already at the intermediate level occurs, even if to a lesser extent, a positive association of dedication with the POP, signaling that, emotionally, these individuals are already becoming more connected to the political game.

Among the highly engaged, the emotional and cognitive components of WKE were less typically related to POP. The third cluster analyzed presented an important characterization: extremely high levels of engagement and policy perception and a highly significant positive association between dedication, absorption and politics. There is significant evidence that emotionally and cognitively structured managers tend to increase their engagement along with the perception of stressful aspects of their work environments, characterizing that these professionals have a greater understanding of organizational intricacies. The findings point to the ability of managers with this profile to recognize and even capitalize on POP as an opportunity to develop strategies that generate individual or organizational benefits. There is then an indication that highly engaged managers have a greater resource burden to acknowledge the inevitability of the political phenomenon and move on.

Another important consideration refers to the characterization of the studied scenario, in which historically there is a strong presence of political behavior (Ardichvili et al., 2012Ardichvili, A., Jondle, D., Kowske, B., Cornachione, E., Li, J., Thakadipuram, T. (2012). Ethical cultures in large business organizations in Brazil, Russia, India, and China. Journal of Business Ethics, 105(4), 415-428. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0976-9
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-0976-...
; Torres et al., 2015Torres, C. V., Alfinito, S., Galvão, C. A. D. S. P., Tse, B. C. Y. (2015). Brazilian jeitinho versus Chinese guanxi: Investigating their informal influence on international business. RAM. Revista de Administração Mackenzie, 16(4), 77-99. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/administracao.v16n4p77-99
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1678-69712015/...
), suggesting a tacit acceptance of maneuvers and formation of unsanctioned alliances, enabling the coexistence of such high WKE and POP scores.

It is relevant to point out that the measurement instrument used in the study measured a perception about the organization and not the political activity of the interviewee. Of course, the organizational environment should be as transparent as possible, but the POP depends on different prisms that involve cultural and individual issues. Thus, the practical implications of this research suggest policies aimed primarily at strengthening managers’ emotional and cognitive factors in order to connect them to the senses of opportunity and challenge.

Identified in a complementary way to the study objectives, some indications should be highlighted. First, we found that, although high, the POP in the private sector was lower than the public sector and, conversely, the WKE had higher scores. However, this comparison lacks evidence in specific research designs. The other point is that managers’ proximity to power centers impacts the increase in POP without compromising engagement, this reinforces the indications that engaged managers are able to positively instrumentalize political behaviors.

The study was limited to managers, all graduates in the area of administration and affiliated to the Class Council (RCA), leaving gaps about possible outcomes with professionals from other training areas or, as for those who perform the activity without this academic background. Compensation was not considered as a control variable, suggesting research that considers the financial influence on the two concepts discussed here. Future research on the relationship between WKE and POP with transnational comparisons may help to understand to what extent the challenges and similarities between different economies and cultural contexts extend to the behavioral issues analyzed here. This study is expected to prompt further discussion of organizational policy and its relationship to other measures of organizational behavior, in order to break the taboo on this issue inherent in the daily lives of companies.

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    RAC owns the copyright to this content.
  • Plagiarism Check
    The RAC maintains the practice of submitting all documents approved for publication to the plagiarism check, using specific tools, e.g.: iThenticate.
  • Peer Review Method
    This content was evaluated using the double-blind peer review process. The disclosure of the reviewers' information on the first page is made only after concluding the evaluation process, and with the voluntary consent of the respective reviewers.
  • Data Availability
    All data and materials were made publicly available through the Mendeley platform and can be accessed at: De Moraes, Romulo Matos; Teixeira, Aridelmo José Campanharo (2020). Replication Data for: “Full Data used for: Managers, Engagement and Political Behaviors: a nonlinear relationship. Published by RAC-Revista de Administração Contemporânea (Journal of Contemporary Administration)”, 24(3), 2020. [Data set]. Journal of Contemporary Administration (RAC). Mendeley. http://doi.org/10.17632/syrw7xgynt.1

  • Funding: The authors report that there is no financial support for the research in this article.

Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    06 Mar 2020
  • Date of issue
    May-Jun 2020

History

  • Received
    01 Oct 2018
  • Reviewed
    16 Aug 2019
  • Accepted
    21 Aug 2019
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