Experienced incivility undermines the positive effects of job autonomy on mental and physical health

Andrew R. Timming, Joseph A. Carpini, Tracey M. Hirst, Amy Wei Tian, Lies Notebaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Integrating insights from conservation of resources theory related to both the positive effects of resources and the detrimental effects of resource loss, this paper examines the effect of job autonomy (an organizational-level resource) on subjective physical pain as mediated by mental health, with experienced workplace incivility (a social stressor) included as a boundary condition. Drawing from the results of a state-wide survey of local government professionals (N = 289), we test a moderated mediation model that estimates the relationships amongst job autonomy, mental health, and physical pain, at differing levels of experienced incivility. Mental health is found to fully mediate the negative relationship between job autonomy and physical pain. When the moderating effect of workplace incivility is incorporated into the model, higher levels of uncivil behavior weaken the otherwise positive and significant effect of job autonomy on mental health. However, the relationship between mental health and physical pain does not depend on levels of workplace incivility. This research has important implications for the management of physical and mental health at work. In particular, the results point to a need to develop human resource policies and practices that both promote job autonomy and tackle experiences of workplace incivility, particularly in local governments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)563-586
Number of pages24
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number4
Early online date2023
Publication statusPublished - 2024


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