|[英文摘要]There has been an upsurge of both public and academic interest in authenticity at work. The key assumption in the burgeoning literature is that authenticity helps engender trust and decrease suspicion, thus drawing people closer to each other. In this study, however, we argued that employee authenticity can exert both positive and negative influences on coworker relationships. Using interpersonal help and interpersonal exclusion to represent positive and negative coworker interactions, respectively, we postulated that employee authenticity induces both coworkers’ helping and exclusionary behaviors toward the focal employees. Building on social penetration theory and the literature of attributional ambiguity, we proposed suspicion of ulterior motives and knowledge-based trust to be the theoretical mechanisms explaining coworkers’ behavioral responses to employee authenticity. Further, we suggested that coworkers’ behavioral responses to employee authenticity depend largely on the coworker relationship duration. Specifically, when relationships are new, employee authenticity may cause coworkers to mistrust the focal employees and be suspicious of their ulterior motives, thus decreasing coworkers’ helping behavior and increasing exclusionary behavior. Conversely, when coworkers have worked together for a long time, employee authenticity may increase coworkers’ trust in the focal employees and decrease suspicion, thus facilitating helping behavior and reducing exclusionary behavior.
We conducted two independent studies to examine the hypothesized effects. First, a two-wave round-robin survey study was conducted to test the mediating role of suspicion of ulterior motives in the relationship between employee authenticity and coworkers’ behavioral responses. In the round-robin design, the team members rated each of their teammates, thus capturing the dyadic interactions between the focal employees and coworkers. We collected data from 299 members of 63 work teams in a large company. The final sample consisted of 1,027 dyads. To alleviate the effects of common method bias, we used multiple data sources to measure our variables. Employee authenticity and suspicion of ulterior motives were assessed using self-reports at Time 1. Interpersonal helping behavior was measured using other-rating and exclusionary behavior with self-reports at Time 2. Coworker relationship duration was measured at both times. In Study 2, an experimental study was conducted to test the full model. Employee authenticity and the coworker relationship duration were manipulated. Specifically, the critical incident technique was used to identify the focal employees whose authenticity was high or low and whose relationship duration with the participants was long or short. The participants served as coworkers and were asked to answer questions about the focal employees. The measures used were adapted from Study 1.
In support of the theoretical model, the results showed that the coworker relationship duration moderated the effect of employee authenticity on coworkers’ suspicion of ulterior motives and knowledge-based trust. Employee authenticity was related positively to suspicion and negatively to trust when the relationship duration was short, and related negatively to suspicion and positively to trust when the relationship duration was long. Further, suspicion of ulterior motives was related to interpersonal exclusionary behavior, and knowledge-based trust to interpersonal helping behavior. This research advances the existing understanding of authenticity in three aspects. First, research on coworker relationships has focused largely on social exchange and similarity attraction theories and suggested that employee authenticity facilitates positive coworker interactions. Our study departs from the main perspectives and builds on social penetration theory to propose that time is required for authenticity to exert its positive influence on coworker interaction. Second, our study contributes to social penetration theory in general. This theory was proposed and has been used mainly to explicate how self-disclosure in communication advances interpersonal relationships. This research uses the theory to understand whether and how the action of manifesting one’s inner true self (employee authenticity) affects coworker interactions. Third, this study helps reconcile the inconsistent findings regarding how coworkers react to employee authenticity by stressing the moderating role of the coworker relationship duration.