How perceived overqualification relates to work alienation and emotional exhaustion: The moderating role of LMX

  • Huiping Yu
  • Fu YangEmail author
  • Ting Wang
  • Jianmin Sun
  • Wenjing Hu


The current study investigated the interaction effect of perceived overqualification and LMX on employee emotional exhaustion, and examined the mediating role of work alienation from the perspective of relative deprivation theory. Using a sample of 297 employees in 12 companies collected in China, we found that perceived overqualification was more positively related to work alienation and emotional exhaustion when LMX was high than when LMX was low. The results of the mediated moderation analysis revealed that work alienation mediated the interaction of perceived overqualification and LMX on emotional exhaustion.


Perceived overqualification Emotional exhaustion LMX Work alienation Relative deprivation theory 



This research was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Project ID: 71502141) and the Project of Humanities and Social Sciences of Ministry of Education in China (Project ID: 16YJA630069).

Author Contributions

Huiping Yu collected data and wrote the first draft. Fu Yang designed the theoretical framework of the study and revised the manuscript based on Reviewers’ comments. Ting Wang revised the manuscript based on Reviewers’ comments. Jianmin Sun and Wenjing Hu provided valuable suggestions for the first draft.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interests.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationShanxi University of Finance and EconomicsTaiyuanPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.School of Business AdministrationSouthwestern University of Finance and EconomicsChengduChina
  3. 3.School of Labor and Human ResourcesRenmin University of ChinaBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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