Experiencing workplace ostracism with loss of engagement

Xiaofeng Xu (First Author), Ho Kwong Kwan (Participant Author), Miaomiao Li (Participant Author)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal

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Drawing on social exchange theory and a cultural perspective, this study examines the relationship between workplace ostracism and job engagement by focusing on the mediating role of felt obligation and the moderating role of collectivism.

A two-wave survey was conducted over four months in a private service business in China. The participants comprised 108 Chinese employees.

The results indicate that workplace ostracism has a negative relationship with job engagement through a reduced sense of felt obligation. Collectivism strengthens the main effect of workplace ostracism on felt obligation and its indirect effect on job engagement via felt obligation.

Research limitations/implications
This study contributes to understanding of the internal mechanism of the workplace ostracism–job engagement model by identifying the mediating role of felt obligation. It also emphasizes that collectivist cultures can enhance the effects of workplace ostracism. However, the generalizability of our findings may be limited due to this cultural factor.

Practical implications
Our findings show that workplace ostracism plays a significant role in reducing job engagement. Therefore, it is essential to reduce the incidence of ostracism in the workplace.

By addressing the previously unexplored mechanism that mediates the relationship between workplace ostracism and job engagement, this study provides new directions for research on workplace ostracism and job engagement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-630
JournalJournal of Managerial Psychology
Issue number7/8
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Corresponding author email


Project sponsor

National Social Science Fund of China

Project name


Project No.



  • Collectivism
  • Felt obligation
  • Job engagement
  • Social exchange theory
  • Workplace ostracism

Indexed by

  • ABDC-B
  • SSCI


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