NEUTRALIZING JOB STRESSORS:
POLITICAL SKILL AS AN ANTIDOTE TO THE DYSFUNCTIONAL
CONSEQUENCES OF ROLE CONFLICT
We examined the neutralizing effects of political skill on
relationships between perceived role conflict and strain. Strain was
measured as psychological anxiety, somatic complaints, and
physiological strain (heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood
pressure). Results support the moderating effects of political
skill: greater political skill reduced the negative effects of role
conflict on all types of strain.
Job stress continues to be a major problem today, costing
organizations billions of dollars in employee disability claims,
employee absenteeism, and lost productivity (e.g., Xie &
Schaubroeck, 2001). Because research has supported the deleterious
effects of stressors on individuals' mental and physical health
(e.g., Spector, Chen, & O'Connell, 2000), it is important to
continue examining potential antidotes to strain and the related
costs of strain to organizations. According to Lazarus's (1991)
transactional theory, stress is a relationship between a person and
an environment that the person cognitively appraises (or evaluates)
as relevant to his or her well-being, and in which the person's
resources are appraised as being taxed or exceeded. The essence of
the transactional theory of stress is to consider how the individual
appraises what is happening in order to understand his or her
emotional and physiological reactions (Lazarus, 1991).
It is through the appraisal process that the individual and the
environment are linked. There are two kinds of appraisal. Primary
appraisal refers to what is at stake for the person, the
significance of an encounter for the individual's well-being
(Folkman, 1992). Secondary
appraisal, on the other hand, occurs when
the person reviews the availability of coping resources for dealing
with a stressor and decides what can be done to alleviate the
negative impact of that stressor (Folkman, 1992). The focus of this
paper is on political skill as an individual characteristic that, we
believe, sheds further light on Lazarus's (1991) secondary appraisal
construct and, thus, on his transactional theory of stress.
Using Lazarus's (1991) transactional theory assertions, we
examine how one personal characteristic, political skill, might
moderate the relationship between a work environmental factor, role
conflict, and psychological anxiety, somatic complaints, and
physiological strain. According to Perrew, Ferris, Frink, and
Anthony (2000), the negative effects arising from a stressor (such
as role conflict) should be reduced for individuals high in
political skill because of their increased confidence and sense of
control. Combining the conceptual work of Lazarus (1991) and Perrew
and colleagues (2000), we argue that political skill is a unique
type of coping resource and, thus, an antidote to the dysfunctional
consequences of stressors.
Role Conflict and Job Strain
For several decades, research has shown
linked with a number of dysfunctional outcomes, including job
dissatisfaction and psychological strain (e.g., Rizzo, House, &
Lirtzman, 1970; Schaubroeck, Cotton, & Jennings, 1989). When two
or more sets of role pressures exist in an individual's workspace,
and the compliance with any one of these pressures impedes the
accomplishment of another, role conflict is the result (Kahn, Wolfe,
Quinn, Snoek, & Rosenthal, 1964). Experiencing incompatible or
irreconcilable expectations associated with multiple roles, or with
a single role, is presumed to be psychologically uncomfortable for
individuals and to generate negative emotional reactions
(Schaubroeck et al., 1989).
Role conflict occurs because of the roles occupied by an
individual. As such, conflict is most often chronic rather than
unique or temporary. In attempting to explain the mechanisms by
which role stressors are linked to negative consequences for
individuals, many researchers have examined the roles of personality
traits and coping mechanisms in the experience of strain. For
example, considerable work has reported a link between negative
affectivity and psychological strain (e.g., Spector et al., 2000).
Others have examined individual difference variables such as
neuroticism (Zellars & PerrewÃ©, 2001) and self-efficacy
(Schaubroeck, Jones, & Xie, 2001) as important determinants of
individuals' emotional and behavioral reactions to stressors. The
evidence to date clearly seems to suggest that some dispositional
characteristics influence individuals' perceptions of, and reactions
to, conditions in their job environment.
However, more work is needed that examines the efficacy of
individuals' specific coping resources in reducing strain. One such
resource might be the political skill utilized in interpersonal
interactions, given their association with role conflict (French
& Caplan, 1972). In this study, we propose that political skill
can serve as a coping resource that neutralizes the degree of
negative outcomes experienced as a result of role conflict occurring
on the job.
Although a large body of research on influence and politics in
organizations has been developed, Jones (1990) noted that
surprisingly little is known about the issues of personal style that
might contribute to the success of specific influence tactics and
behaviors. He speculated that the components of style "have
something to do with mixtures of self-confidence and self-mockery,
comfort with one's achievements but humility in citing them, the
ability to communicate in ways that touch and arouse constituents,
and selected aspects of physical appearance and bearing that are
difficult to locate in our psychological theories" (Jones, 1990:
199). Indeed, more than a decade after Jones's statement,
researchers have yet to adequately address the effective execution
of influence behaviors (e.g., Ferris, Hochwarter, Douglas, Blass,
Kolodinsky, & Treadway, 2002).
Mintzberg (1983) coined the term "political skill" to refer to a
personal characteristic of individuals they need to be effective in
the political arenas of organizational life. Characterized by
Mintzberg as an intuitive sense of how to use power effectively,
political skill is the ability "to exercise formal power with a
sensitivity to the feelings of others, to know where to concentrate
one's energies, to sense what is possible, to organize the necessary
alliances" (Mintzberg, 1983: 26).
Although the notion of political skill makes intuitive sense, and
it has been used in the ensuing years in anecdotal and casual ways,
serious scholarship on this construct was not initiated until nearly
two decades after Mintzberg's initial statement. Furthermore,
whereas Mintzberg tended to associate political skill explicitly
with formal power, the political skill construct, as it is
characterized today, fits better with the ideas of some scholars
concerning the exercise of influence devoid of formal authority
(e.g., Kotter, 1985).
Definition and construct delineation. Ferris and
his colleagues (e.g., Ferris et al., 1999) initiated research on
delineating the construct domain space of political skill, provided
initial evidence for its convergent and discriminant validity, and
developed a concise unidimensional measure of this construct. In
their conceptualization, and following Mintzberg's (1983) work,
political skill refers to the ability to effectively understand
others at work and to use such knowledge to influence others to act
in ways that enhance one's personal and/or organizational
Political skill, thus, implies a facility in dealing with and
through others, and feelings of enhanced control are gained by those
with political skill as they are successful at influencing others at
work. More specifically, Ferris and his coauthors (1999) argued that
political skill should generate a sense of self-confidence and
personal security because people will experience a strong sense of
being able to understand and control both other people at work and
the tactics needed to get what they themselves want. It is this
increased confidence and sense of control that explains why
high-political-skill individuals should experience less anxiety and
stress at work (PerrewÃ© et al., 2000).
The six items developed by Ferris and his colleagues (1999) to
measure political skill were, by their own admission, an initial
attempt to representatively tap the principal aspects and features
of this construct in a concise, unidimensional manner. Besides the
Ferris et al. study, several other studies have assessed the factor
structure of the six-item political skill scale and found strong
support for its unidimensionality (e.g., Ahearn, Ferris, Hochwarter,
Douglas, & Ammeter, in press; Kolodinsky, Hochwarter, &
Ferris, 2001). The definition of political skill embedded in this
scale reflects the understanding of others at work and the use of
that knowledge to influence others. For example, understanding
others is exhibited in the item, "I understand people well." The use
of knowledge about others for influence purposes is seen in the
item, "I am able to make most people feel comfortable and at ease
around me." Thus, the definition of political skill appears to
convey the essential elements of the construct adequately and
representatively, and the construct seems to be accurately
"operationalized" by the six-item scale. (Use of the scale is
further described below, and all items are listed in the
Construct validity. Concerning construct
validity, Ferris et al. (1999) argued that political skill is
expected to overlap with other social effectiveness constructs, but
only to a modest degree, and not so highly as to indicate construct
redundancy. Ferris, PerrewÃ©, and Douglas (2002) reviewed the many
social effectiveness constructs that have proliferated in recent
years (including political skill) and concluded that each has a
unique quality. They also suggested that there is natural overlap
among the measures of most of these constructs, although it is
Individuals high in political skill possess an understanding of
people, along with a basic belief that they can control the
processes and outcomes of interactions with others. A key component
of political skill is the "development and leveraging of social
capital" needed to achieve one's goals (PerrewÃ© et al., 2000: 117).
Individuals who have built social connections characterized by
confidence, trust, and sincerity should sense greater control over
their work environment.
Experienced strain is reduced as political skill enhances
individuals' understanding of their work environment and the adverse
stimuli encountered (Ferris et al., 1999; PerrewÃ© et al., 2000).
Furthermore, people high in political skill tend to view
interpersonal interactions as opportunities rather than threats, and
they evaluate and interpret environmental stimuli differently than
those low in political skill (PerrewÃ© et al., 2000). PerrewÃ© and
colleagues argued that political skill can have two types of effects
related to stress and strain. First, individuals high in political
skill should generally perceive fewer stressors at work. Second,
when politically skilled individuals do encounter stressors in a
work environment, such stressors are less likely to produce
Therefore, political skill should moderate a perceived source of
stressor-strain relationship. The negative effects arising from a
stressor should be reduced for individuals high in political skill
because they feel more adept at handling such situations. Therefore,
we suggest that political skill serves as an antidote of sorts to
the dysfunctional effects of role conflict. On the basis of the
foregoing literature, we formulated the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1. The relationship between perceived role conflict
and strain is moderated by political skill in such a way that higher
political skill attenuates the negative relationship between role
conflict and psychological, somatic, and physiological strain.
On the other hand, individuals low in political skill will
experience the negative effects of role conflict in the form of
increased psychological anxiety, somatic complaints, and
We collected data from 230 full-time employees (99 had
supervisory responsibilities and 131 did not have supervisory
responsibilities) from three large oil companies in Brazil over a
15-month period. In theory and research on political skill, it has
always been argued implicitly as well as explicitly that political
skill is important for individuals whose work involves having
contact with others (Ferris et al., 1999; Ferris, PerrewÃ©, Anthony,
& Gilmore, 2000). Research on political skill has shown
interesting and important effects on samples of social work
caseworkers, secretarial/clerical employees, and
recruiters/interviewers. Thus, political skill is argued to be
important for all individuals, even those employees without
Participation in the study was voluntary. The sample was
predominantly male (72.6%) and married (69%). The average number of
years of work experience exceeded 19 years, and 82 percent of sample
members had 10 or more years of work experience. The questionnaire,
designed by the authors, was translated from English to Portuguese
and back-translated by two English teachers who were fluent in both
languages. The two translators worked independently. Only a few
minor discrepancies in wording emerged, and these were resolved by
the translators as they talked through the differences.
Data were collected from each participant at two points in time
as part of a large stress-related program sponsored by the
companies. Each respondent completed a questionnaire containing
personality and stressor items at a professional biofeedback clinic.
The respondents returned to the clinic approximately one week later
for the collection of data on experienced strain. Readings were
taken for systolic and diastolic blood pressure and heart rate by a
professionally educated clinical psychologist (an author) with more
than 20 years of experience conducting and supervising biofeedback
studies. Respondents also completed questionnaires that measured
anxiety experienced in their lives.
The texts of the items in all of the following scales appear in
Political skill. Respondents' political skill
was measured via six items developed by Ferris et al. (1999) that
utilized a five-point Likert-type response scale (1,"strongly
disagree," to 7, "strongly agree"). Responses to the six items were
summed and averaged into a composite, with higher scores indicating
greater political skill. The coefficient alpha internal consistency
reliability estimate was .71.
Perceived role conflict. We averaged responses
to eight items developed by Rizzo, House, and Lirtzman (1970) to
measure role conflict (Î± = .81; 1, "strongly disagree," to 7,
"strongly agree"). Higher scores indicated greater perceived role
Psychological anxiety and somatic complaints. We
measured respondents' psychological anxiety and somatic complaints
using scales developed by Lehrer and Woolfolk (1982). Using a
seven-point format, with endpoints of "never" and "extremely often,"
respondents indicated how often they felt the way the statement
described. The psychological anxiety measure contained 11 items (Î± =
.82), and the somatic complaint scale contained 16 items (Î± = .85).
Higher scores on each scale indicated greater anxiety.
Physiological measures. Heart rate was measured
with a stethoscope, and blood pressure was measured with a
sphygmomanometer. Each time a heart beats, a surge of blood is
pumped from the heart into the arteries, which increases the
pressure in the arteries. In between heartbeats, the pressure in the
arteries decreases. Blood pressure is reported as two numbers: the
systolic value is a measure of the pressure of the blood against the
artery walls when the heart contracts, and the diastolic measure is
the pressure against the artery walls when the heart rests
(Wellsource, Inc, 1996). Elevated levels of these cardiovascular
measures have long been known risk factors for coronary heart
disease (Fried, Rowland, & Ferris, 1984).
Control variables. In order to ensure that the
hypothesis test was appropriately conservative, we controlled
several variables in the regression analyses: total years of work
experience, age, average number of hours worked per week, gender,
marital status, education level, and hierarchical position within
Also, in view of prior research linking negative affect (NA) and
psychological symptoms (e.g., Spector et al., 2000), we controlled
for NA using the PANAS scales developed by Watson, Clark, and
Tellegen (1988; 1, "very slightly," to 5, "extremely"; Î± = .82).
Finally, in order to make it clear that political skill
represents something beyond mere general self-efficacy, we
statistically controlled for this construct. General self-efficacy
was measured with nine items developed by Riggs, Warka, Babasa,
Betancourt, and Hooker (1994) to indicate respondents' confidence in
their skills and abilities (1,"strongly
disagree," to 7, "strongly agree"; Î± = .72). Higher scores indicated
greater general self-efficacy. Six items were reverse-coded. The
original scale contained ten items, but we eliminated one item that
appeared to be problematic, "Most people in my line of work can do
the job better than I can." This is the only item in the original
scale that requires respondents to compare themselves with
Means, standard deviations, and intercorrelations of the study
variables are shown in Table 1. Because political skill has not been
widely measured, we tested for its construct validity.
Political skill. Ferris and his colleagues
(1999) found that political skill was positively (but moderately)
related, as expected, to self-monitoring (r = .21, p < .01),
empathy (r < .28, p < .01), understanding of events (r <
.39, p < .001), extraversion (r = .28, p < .01), positive
affectivity (r = .36, p < .001), and conscientiousness (r = .25,
p < .01). They also argued that political skill would be
independent of general mental ability--that is, that political skill
was an identifiable personal attribute in its own right, and not
simply an aspect of general intelligence. Ferris et al. (1999)
reported a nonsignificant correlation between political skill and
general mental ability (r = -.08, n.s.).
It might also be argued that general self-efficacy and political
skill are redundant constructs. Therefore, we needed to be able to
demonstrate that whereas they might correlate, the relationship was
no more than modest in magnitude. The zero-order correlation between
political skill and general self-efficacy was .31 (p < .01),
placing it within the range of modest relationships that political
skill has been argued (and found) to have with other interpersonally
Measurement model. We assessed construct
validity using the Anderson and Gerbing (1988) method. Under this
method, convergent validity is demonstrated if the path loading from
an item to its latent construct is significant and if the item's
loading is more than twice the item's standard error. Discriminant
validity is demonstrated when a chi-square difference test between
the unconstrained measurement model and one in which a pair of
latent variables is correlated at 1.0 is significant.
LISREL 8.3 was used to assess both convergent and discriminant
validity. We estimated a measurement model consisting of all items
for the constructs of role conflict, political skill, negative
affectivity, and self-efficacy from a covariance matrix. Items
within constructs were correlated if the correlation between the
item and another item within the same construct was greater than or
equal to .25. Correlations between items across constructs were not
specified. Relationship equations associated the latent construct
with its respective items. No relationships, constraints, or paths
involving the latent constructs were specified. The fit statistics
for the measurement model (Ï‡Â² = 383.03, p = .08, df = 346, GFI =
.90, CFI = .97, RMSEA = .02, and SRMR = .05) were acceptable
(Kelloway, 1998). We then compared this model using chi-square
difference tests against six alternate measurement models to assess
discriminant validity. In each alternate model, one pair of latent
constructs was correlated at 1.0, per the Anderson and Gerbing
(1988) method. Setting the correlation for a pair of constructs to
1.0 implies that the two constructs are the same. Thus, if the
alternate model fails the chi-square difference test, discriminant
validity is demonstrated, as the two constructs are not the same. In
each case, the chi-square difference test was significant at the .01
level. Thus, discriminant validity among the constructs was
Alternate model tests. Two alternate models were
tested to determine if specific latent constructs did indeed
contribute to and have a significant influence on the hypothesized
four-factor model. Both models started with the four-factor model,
from which one latent construct (political skill or self-efficacy)
was removed, producing a three-factor model, which was then compared
to the hypothesized four-factor model. The analysis of these models
was accomplished using two approaches: the ratio of chi-square to
degrees of freedom, as recommended by Bollen (1989; also see Keeping
& Levy, 2000: 715), and the AIC fit statistic (Schumacker &
Lomax, 1996: 7-8). The ratio of chi-square to degrees of freedom was
smaller in the four-factor model than in each of the alternate
models (four-factor: 1.11; three-factor, without political skill:
1.29; three-factor, without self-efficacy: 1.43). The model AIC was
lower in the four-factor model (four-factor: 683.03; three-factor,
without political skill: 739.75; three-factor, without
self-efficacy: 787.52). Thus, we concluded that the four-factor
model effectively represented the data in our study.
Moderated regression results. Once we were
satisfied with the construct validity of our measures, we tested the
hypothesis, which states that political skill moderates the
relationship between perceived role conflict and strain in such a
way that greater political skill reduces the effect of conflict on
strain. All independent variables were centered prior to their entry
in regression equations, and tests for normality demonstrated no
violations of assumptions underlying the regressions. The results
are shown in step 2 of Table 2. The interaction term significantly
predicted psychological anxiety (p < .01), somatic complaints (p
< .05), systolic blood pressure (p < .05), and diastolic blood
pressure (p < .05), explaining variance beyond that accounted for
by the "main effects" and control variables. However, the
interaction term was not significant for heart rate. Therefore, we
found strong but not full support for the hypothesis.
In order to examine the nature and form of the interactions more
closely, we plotted them using procedures by Aiken and West (1991).
They are graphically illustrated in Figures 1a-1d. There appears to
be sufficient evidence across the four criterion variables to
support the hypothesis that political skill attenuates the negative
effects of role conflict. As can be seen, the negative effects of
role conflict are much more dysfunctional for individuals low in
political skill than they are for those high in political skill.
This relationship is most dramatically highlighted in Figure 1c,
where increases in role conflict are associated with increases in
systolic blood pressure for individuals low in political skill.
However, increments in role conflict for those high in political
skill are actually associated with reductions in systolic blood
pressure. Figure 1d shows similar, but less dramatic, results for
diastolic blood pressure.
The role of general self-efficacy. To conduct
the most rigorous assessment of political skills' moderating
effects, we repeated the moderated regression analysis, this time
examining possible moderation by general self-efficacy of the role
conflict-strain relationships with political skill controlled. The
results of these analyses demonstrated that the interaction of role
conflict with general self-efficacy was not significant for any of
the strain outcomes. The p values ranged from .23 (diastolic blood
pressure) to .75 (heart rate).
Job stress has been a costly and disruptive problem for
organizations for decades, and it shows no signs of diminishing any
time soon. Indeed, large-scale changes involving the downsizing and
restructuring of organizations have resulted in numerous role
changes for employees at work, thus further increasing stress
levels. Therefore, it is incumbent upon organizational scientists to
develop a more informed understanding of the factors that can
protect people from the negative consequences of job stress.
Following PerrewÃ© and colleagues (2000), we hypothesized that
political skill at work moderates the relationship between role
conflict and psychological anxiety, somatic complaints, and
physiological strain. Strong support was found for this hypothesis.
For four of the five criterion measures, political skill attenuated
the dysfunctional effects of role conflict, as predicted. We believe
these results have interesting implications, and we discuss what we
see as the key contributions and limitations of the study, as well
as directions for future research.
Contributions to Theory and Research
The work of Lazarus (e.g., 1991, 1999) has largely influenced the
proposition that "person variables" influence the stressor-strain
relationship. That body of work has indicated that the degree of fit
between a person and his (her) environment is a significant
determinant of the amount of strain experienced. Instead of simply
examining the environmental causes of strain, Lazarus suggested that
strain results when a person feels unable to adequately cope with an
identified threat. In the appraisal model, individuals assess
whether events have implications for their well-being. Those deemed
to be irrelevant have no bearing on well-being. Events that
potentially affect well-being--in this case, instances of perceived
role conflict--initiate a secondary appraisal in which individuals
determine the adequacy of their coping resources. We argued that
political skill is a unique and effective coping resource that,
although it had not been considered previously in terms of Lazarus's
transactional theory, could shed further light on Lazarus's
secondary appraisal construct. The current examination of the role
of political skill is a significant contribution in that political
skill is a resource that appears more amenable to change and
development by an individual than some of the previously examined
individual differences known to influence experienced strain (such
as negative affect). Moreover, unlike resources that, in general,
only management can provide (for instance, increased staffing),
political skill is a coping resource an individual can separately
and uniquely control.
Further, previous stress research has not systematically examined
psychological, somatic, and physiological strain criterion measures
in the same study. The fact that we found convergent findings across
the three types of strain reinforces confidence in the validity of
the results. The results provide further support for, and validation
of, both the political skill construct and one of the roles it can
play in the organizational sciences. Our findings support the view
that political skill serves as an antidote to the dysfunctional
consequences of stress.
As perceptions of role conflict increased, individuals with low
political skill reported increases in psychological anxiety and
somatic complaints at a higher rate than individuals with high
political skill. Thus, it appears that high political skill can help
to ameliorate the negative effects of role conflict. It is
interesting that for somatic complaints, the largest degree of
separation between low and high political skill occurred when
perceived role conflict was low. Perhaps individuals with high
political skill require a certain amount of stimuli or activation in
their environment to feel comfortable. Stimuli that are stressful
for some may be perceived as welcome challenges for individuals with
high political skill. A quick examination of all four of the graphs
presented here (Figures 1a-1d) indicates that strain was higher
under conditions of low role conflict for individuals high in
political skill. Clearly, additional research is needed to determine
if individuals with high political skill require a higher level of
activation than individuals with low political skill.
With regard to blood pressure, individuals low in political skill
had higher increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure
than individuals high in political skill as perceived role conflicts
increased. Systolic blood pressure actually decreased for
individuals with high political skill under conditions of high role
conflict. Together, these finding provide strong support for the
neutralizing effects of political skill in the role conflict-strain
Although political skill significantly predicted heart rate, no
effect of the interaction of perceived role conflict and political
skill on heart rate was detected. The reasons for this absence of
significance are not clear. Researchers have reported mixed results
for "background stressors," which are sources of stress within one's
environment. In their review of background and acute stressors on
cardiovascular reactivity (heart rate, systolic and diastolic blood
pressure), Gump and Matthews (1999) noted that it is important to
use several measures of reactivity because stressors can exhibit
different effects on blood pressure and heart rate reactivity. As
they stated, "No one measure was more consistently associated with
background stress than another" (Gump & Matthews, 487).
Limitations and Future Research
Although role conflict has been well substantiated as a key
stressor in organizations, one of the limitations of this study is
that only one stressor was examined. To some extent, we were
constrained by the parameters of the data collection situation and
had to limit the amount of information that could be collected. We
recommend that researchers conducting future studies examine a
broader set of job stressors to see if political skill demonstrates
similar moderating effects. The inclusion of other health-related
variables (such as smoking) as controls would also expand our
efforts. Future conceptual work incorporating how an individual
selects a specific coping resource as part of Lazarus's (1991)
appraisal process will be critically important in this area of
Another limitation is that political skill was measured only
through self-reported assessments. Although this procedure might be
acceptable as an initial test of these ideas, future efforts should
include additional assessments of political skill (such as peer
perspectives), in order to ensure the construct is being captured in
a valid manner.
Finally, the field of psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) has recently
become one of the most exciting areas of stress research.
Essentially, PNI is the examination of the relationship between
stress, the immune system, and health outcomes (DeAngelis, 2002).
Future research is needed to determine whether political skill may
be one psychosocial factor that can buffer the stressor-stress
response relationship. Previous research has demonstrated clear
links between stress and the immune system and has examined the
beneficial effects of psychosocial factors such as social support
and optimism. The findings of this study suggest that political
skill may, indeed, have psychological and physiological benefits for
employees. An examination of the role of political skill in PNI may
prove to be an important step in stress research.
Implications for Practice
The results of the present study provide some interesting
implications for practice. Perhaps most immediately, we would
emphasize the importance of efforts to develop political skill.
Characterizations of political skill have depicted it as part
dispositional and part developmental (e.g., Ferris et al., 1999).
Researchers should address political skill as an aspect of an
internal stressor-strain neutralizing process. Ferris, Anthony,
Kolodinsky, Gilmore, and Harvey (2002) recently suggested ways to
develop political skill through process-focused techniques such as
drama-based training, developmental simulations, and behavior
modeling. Such training and development efforts for political skill
are complex and will need to be established carefully and
effectively and evaluated systematically. In conclusion, this study
provides strong evidence in support of the psychological and
physiological benefits of possessing political skill in stressful
The first two authors contributed equally and are listed in
Legend for Chart:
A - Variable(b)
B - Mean
C - s.d.
D - 1
E - 2
F - 3
G - 4
H - 5
I - 6
J - 7
K - 8
L - 9
M - 10
N - 11
O - 12
P - 13
Q - 14
A B C D E F
G H I J K
L M N O P
1. Years of experience 19.42 8.56
2. Age 38.60 8.99 .93
3. Gender 1.27 0.45 -.18 -.07
4. Martial status 1.31 0.47 -.25 -.22 .30
5. Hierarchical position 1.78 1.04 .24 .31 .17
6. Hours/week 42.67 7.04 .06 .11 .08
7. Negative affectivity 2.73 0.65 -.09 -.05 .17
-.01 -.01 -.03
8. General self-efficacy 5.22 0.98 .25 .19 -.10
-.08 .05 .13 -.34
9. Conflict 3.18 1.27 -.04 -.02 .11
-.01 .09 -.04 .31 -.33
10. Political skill 3.76 0.62 .02 .03 .14
.06 .21 .09 -.40 .31
11. Psychological anxiety 3.14 1.05 -.02 .03 .16
-.02 .05 -.02 .67 -.38
12. Somatic complaints 3.23 0.97 -.05 .02 .21
-.07 .05 -.02 .69 -.37
.42 -.23 .83
13. Diastolic blood pressure 78 10 .09 .16 .04
.01 .12 .09 .01 .05
.11 -.04 .04 .04
14. Systolic blood pressure 123 13 .08 .14 .03
-.01 .01 .02 .02 .13
.03 -.02 -.02 .01 .79
15. Heart rate 70 9 -.07 -.07 .20
.03 .14 .09 .10 .09
.11 .12 .09 .08 .09
(a) n = 230. Correlations greater than. 12 are significant at
p < .05; correlations greater than .17 are significant at
p < .01.
(b) Gender, 1 = male, 2 = female; marital status, 1 = married,
2 = single/divorced; hierarchical position, 1 = nonsupervisory,
2 = first-level manager, 3= middle-level manager, 4 = upper-level
Legend for Chart:
A - Variable(a)
B - Psychological Anxiety Step 1 Î²
C - Psychological Anxiety Step 1 s.e.
D - Psychological Anxiety Step 2 Î²
E - Psychological Anxiety Step 2 s.e.
F - Somatic Complaints Step 1 Î²
G - Somatic Complaints Step 1 s.e.
H - Somatic Complaints Step 2 Î²
I - Somatic Complaints Step 2 s.e.
J - Systolic Blood Pressure Step 1 Î²
K - Systolic Blood Pressure Step 1 s.e.
L - Systolic Blood Pressure Step 2 Î²
M - Systolic Blood Pressure Step 2 s.e.
N - Diastolic Blood Pressure Step 1 Î²
O - Diastolic Blood Pressure Step 1 s.e.
P - Diastolic Blood Pressure Step 2 Î²
Q - Diastolic Blood Pressure Step 2 s.e.
R - Heart Rate Step 1 Î²
S - Heart Rate Step 1 s.e.
T - Heart Rate Step 2 Î²
U - Heart Rate Step 2 s.e.
A B C
D E F G H I
J K L M N O
P Q R S T U
Years of experience -.02 0.02
-.01 0.02 -.16 0.02 -.16 0.01
-.40(*) 0.27 -.39(*) 0.27 -.44(*) 0.21
-.43(*) 0.21 .12 0.20 .12 0.20
Age .09 0.02
.09 0.02 .20 0.01 .21 0.01
.49(**) 0.26 .49(**) 0.25 .54(**) 0.20
.55 0.20 -.24 0.19 -.24 0.19
Gender .04 0.12
.06 0.12 .08 0.11 .09 0.11
.02 2.10 .03 2.08 -.01 1.64
.01 1.63 .16(*) 1.56 .17(*) 1.56
Marital status -.03 0.11
-.02 0.11 -.10 0.10 -.10 0.10
.01 1.90 .02 1.88 .04 1.49
.05 1.47 -.03 1.41 -.03 1.41
Hierarchical position .03 0.06
.02 0.06 -.01 0.05 -.01 0.05
-.05 0.09 -.06 0.97 .05 0.77
.04 0.76 .12 0.73 .12 0.73
Hours/week .00 0.01
-.01 0.01 .00 0.01 -.01 0.01
.01 0.14 -.00 0.13 .04 0.11
.03 0.10 .01 0.10 .01 0.10
Negative affectivity .54(**) 0.09
.54(**) 0.09 .58(**) 0.08 .59(**) 0.08
.03 1.46 .03 1.45 -.05 1.15
-.04 1.13 .13 1.08 .14 1.09
General self-efficacy -.12(*) 0.06
-.12(*) 0.06 -.12(*) 0.05 -.12(*) 0.05
.20(**) 0.99 .21(**) 0.98 .12 0.77
.12 0.76 .16(*) 0.73 .16(*) 0.73
Role conflict .21(**) 0.04
.21(**) 0.04 .19(**) 0.04 .19(**) 0.04
.09 0.72 .09 0.71 .15(*) 0.56
.16(*) 0.55 .09 0.53 .09 0.53
Political skill -.06 0.09
-.04 0.09 .03 0.08 .05 0.08
-.08 1.57 -.05 1.54 -.11 1.23
-.09 1.21 .09 1.15 .09 1.16
Role conflict x political skill
-.13(**) 0.06 -.11(**) 0.05
-.17(*) 0.78 -.05 0.75
Model F (df) 24.19(**)
23.28(**) 27.40(**) 26.01(**)
(11, 218) (10, 219) (11, 218)
1.54 1.97(*) 1.99(*)
(10, 219) (11, 218) (10, 219)
2.47(**) 2.63(**) 2.43(**)
(11, 218) (10, 219) (11, 218)
Overall RÂ² .52(**)
.54(**) .55(*) .57(**)
.06 .09 .08
.11 .10 .11
(a) Gender, 1 = male, 2 = female; marital status, 1 = married,
2 = single/divorced; hierarchical position, 1 = nonsupervisory,
2 = first-level manager, 3 = middle-level manager,
4 = upper-level manager.
(*) p < .05
(**) p < .01
GRAPH: FIGURE 1 Effects of the Interaction between Role Conflict
and Political Skills
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I find it easy to envision myself in the position of others; I am
able to make most people feel comfortable and at ease around me; It
is easy for me to develop good rapport with most people; I
understand people well; I am good at getting others to respond
positively to me; I usually try to find common ground with
I must do things that I think should be done differently; I work
under incompatible polices and guidelines; I have to oppose a rule
or policy in order to carry out an assignment; I receive assignments
without the manpower to complete them; I receive incompatible
requests from two or more people; I have to work under vague
directions or orders; I receive assignments without adequate
resources and materials to execute them; I work on many unnecessary
I picture some future misfortune; I can't get some thoughts out
of my mind; I dwell on mistakes that I have made; I think about
possible misfortunes to my loved ones; I cannot concentrate at a
task or job without irrelevant thoughts intruding; I keep busy to
avoid uncomfortable thoughts; I can't get some pictures or images
out of my mind; I imagine myself appearing foolish with a person
whose opinion of me is important; I am concerned that others might
not think well of me; I have to be careful not to let my real
feelings show; I have an uneasy feeling.
My throat gets dry; I have difficulty in swallowing; My heart
pounds; My limbs tremble; My stomach hurts; My neck feels tight; I
feel dizzy; I breathe rapidly; I can't catch my breath; My arms or
legs feel stiff; My muscles twitch or jump; I experience a tingling
sensation somewhere in my body; My arms or legs feel weak; I
experience muscular aches and pains; I feel numbness in my face,
limbs or tongue; I experience chest pains.
I have confidence in my ability to do my job; There are some
tasks required by my job that I cannot do well; When my performance
is poor, it is due to my lack of ability; I doubt my ability to do
my job; I have all the skills needed to perform my job very well; I
am an expert at my job; My future in this job is limited because of
my lack of skills; I am very proud of my job skills and abilities; I
feel threatened when others watch me work.
Indicate the degree to which you generally feel this way--that
is, how you feel on the average.
Distressed; upset; guilty; scared; hostile, irritable; ashamed;
nervous; jittery; afraid.
By Pamela L. PerrewÃ©, Florida State University; Kelly L. Zellars,
University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Gerald R. Ferris, Florida
State University; Ana Maria Rossi, Clinica De Stress E Biofeedback;
Charles J. Kacmar, Florida State University and David A. Ralston,
University of Oklahoma
Pamela L. PerrewÃ© (firstname.lastname@example.org) received her Ph.D. in
business administration from the University of Nebraska. She is the
Jim Moran Professor of Management at Florida State University. Her
research interests include organizational stress, personality,
emotions, and political influence.
Kelly L. Zellars (email@example.com) received her Ph.D. in
business administration from Florida State University. She is an
assistant professor of management at the University of North
Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include organizational
stress, personality, emotions, and organizational citizenship.
Gerald R. Ferris received a Ph.D. in business administration from
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the Frances
Eppes Professor of Management and a professor of psychology at
Florida State University. His research interests include social and
political influence processes in organizations, accountability at
work, and the nature of individual reputation in organizations.
Ana Maria Rossi earned her Ph.D. at the University of
Nebraska--Lincoln; she is the president of the Brazilian Branch of
the International Stress Management Association (ISMA-BR) and the
director of the ClÃnica de Stress & Biofeedback, in Porto
Alegre, Brazil. Her current research interests include occupational
stress and burnout.
Charles J. (Chuck) Kacmar received his Ph.D. in computer science
from Texas A&M University. He is an associate professor of
management information systems at Florida State University. His
research interests include behavioral and organizational information
systems, human-computer interaction, collaborative systems, and
David A. Ralston earned his DBA at Florida State University. He
is a professor and the Price Chair of International Business at the
University of Oklahoma, with research focused on cross-cultural
issues. He has served as guest editor for the Journal of
International Business Studies and will be guest editor for a
forthcoming issue of the Academy of Management