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How Role Stress Mediates the Relationship Between Destructive Leadership and Employee Silence: The Moderating Role of Job Complexity

  • Mengying Wu (a1) (a2), Zhenglong Peng (a1) and Christophe Estay (a2)

Destructive leadership and employee silence have attracted increasing attention in the academy of organisational behaviour and human resource management. However, the research on the mediating mechanism and boundary variables of their relationship has received little attention. The main purpose of our research was to explore the underlying influence of negative leadership (specifically, destructive leadership) on employee silence by developing a moderated mediation model. Drawing from conservation of resources theory, role theory, and the job characteristic model, the new theoretical model concentrates on the role of stress with three dimensions as mediators and the job complexity as a moderator. Using 318 samples collected from multiple companies in southeast China, the model was tested through confirmatory factor analysis, correlation analysis, and the PROCESS program in AMOS and SPSS environments. Results reveal that employees may resort to silence in the workplace due to their feelings of role conflict, role ambiguity, and role overload when they face destructive leadership; while the presence of high job complexity makes the adverse impact of destructive leadership even worse. Managerial and practical implications, limitations, and research directions in future are discussed and offered.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mengying Wu, School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, No.1239 Siping Road, Yangpu District, Shanghai 200092, China. Email:
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