Perceived Overqualification and Task Performance: Reconciling Two Opposing Pathways

Allan Lee, Berrin Erdogan, Amy Tian, Sara Willis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, we predict that higher levels of relative deprivation and higher levels of task mastery constitute two pathways through which perceived overqualification (POQ) has indirect and opposing effects on task performance. Further, we predict that occupational instrumentality, the degree to which the individual regards the job as a stepping stone to future career opportunities, will serve as a moderator for both pathways. Across two studies, as well as a supplementary study, we found evidence that POQ is positively associated with followers’ perceptions of both task mastery and relative deprivation. In both studies we also found consistent evidence for a positive indirect effect between POQ and task performance via perceptions of task mastery. This indirect relationship was observed for both self-rated (Studies 1 and 2) and manager-rated task performance (Study 2). Further, occupational instrumentality mitigated the positive relationship between POQ and relative deprivation. Overall, the results suggest that POQ-task performance relationship is a function of dual pathways that work in opposing directions, and that the ability to see the job as a stepping stone is instrumental in determining the strength of these pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Early online date29 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jun 2020


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