Cognitive and Affective Job Insecurity

[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Lixin Jiang of the University of Auckland and Dr. Lindsey M. Lavaysse of Washington State University–Vancouver. They recently published an article in the Journal of Management entitled “Cognitive and Affective Job Insecurity: A Meta-Analysis and a Primary Study,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Jiang reveals the inspiration for conducting this research :]


What motivated you to pursue this research?

I was driven by two primary reasons. The most recent meta-analysis on the outcome of job insecurity was published in 2008. The field has made a lot of progress since then. There is a great need to update our knowledge of outcomes of job insecurity. More importantly, when asking employees about their job insecurity, they often say, “I am really scared of the possibility of job loss.” This is what we called the affective aspect of job insecurity. However, the field still primarily focuses on cognitive job insecurity- the perceived possibility of job loss. Thus, there is a mismatch between how employees really experience job insecurity and what we actually measure in the academia. In order to address this problem, I conducted this meta-analysis to show that affective job insecurity has better predictive power than cognitive job insecurity and should be included in the theoretical development of job insecurity.

What has been the most challenging aspect of conducting your research? Were there any surprising findings?

We ended up having to code almost 500 articles (465 to be exact). I coded all articles. You can imagine it is a very time-consuming process. To complete the task, I coded 20 articles per day, which took me about one month. Then, I focused on my other work during the next month. Finally, I came back and recoded all articles all over again to make sure that all coding was correct. Of course, Linz, the second author, coded 20% of articles and we compared our notes. This was the most challenging part.

As predicted, affective job insecurity was a better predictor of employee outcomes than cognitive job insecurity. Additionally, we included a primary study as suggested by reviewers. We found that for those who treat their job as their number one priority (as opposed to those who do not believe their work plays an important role in their life), they become more vulnerable and report a significantly higher level of affective job insecurity when perceiving there is a possibility of job loss. The only one surprising finding is that the predictive validity of a scale tapping into both affective and cognitive job insecurity was not as bad as we have expected.

What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?

If you are particularly interested in outcomes of job insecurity, then you should measure affective job insecurity. If you are interested in predictors of job insecurity, then you should measure cognitive job insecurity. Moreover, future research should examine moderators and mediators in the linkage between cognitive job insecurity and affective job insecurity. That is, why is there a relation between cognitive job insecurity and affective job insecurity? Who is more likely to report higher levels of affective job insecurity as a result of cognitive job insecurity?

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This entry was posted in Management, Management Theory and tagged , , , , , by Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

About Cynthia Nalevanko, Senior Editor, SAGE Publishing

Founded in 1965, SAGE is the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. Known for our commitment to quality and innovation, SAGE has helped inform and educate a global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers, and students across a broad range of subject areas. With over 1500 employees globally from principal offices in Los Angeles, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Washington DC, and Melburne, our publishing program includes more than 1000 journals and over 900 books, reference works and databases a year in business, humanities, social sciences, science, technology and medicine. Believing passionately that engaged scholarship lies at the heart of any healthy society and that education is intrinsically valuable, SAGE aims to be the world’s leading independent academic and professional publisher. This means playing a creative role in society by disseminating teaching and research on a global scale, the cornerstones of which are good, long-term relationships, a focus on our markets, and an ability to combine quality and innovation. Leading authors, editors and societies should feel that SAGE is their natural home: we believe in meeting the range of their needs, and in publishing the best of their work. We are a growing company, and our financial success comes from thinking creatively about our markets and actively responding to the needs of our customers.

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