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U.S. Politics at Work: The Impact of Leader-Follower Political Alignment Open Access

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In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, the American Psychological Association has identified politics as a workplace issue on which little organizational research has been done to date. The current study helps fill this gap by examining the effects of employees' perceived political alignment (PPA) with one’s leader on job satisfaction and job-related stress. PPA is defined as the extent to which employees believe their own political ideology (i.e., conservatism) to be in alignment with their perceptions of their leader’s political ideology. Data was collected in an online survey, distributed to participants (n = 688) via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Results from two moderated-mediation models indicate that PPA is positively related to job satisfaction and negatively related to job stress, such that those who felt their political ideology was more aligned with that of their leader’s experienced more job satisfaction and less job-related stress as compared to individuals who felt less politically aligned with their leader. These relationships were both mediated by the quality of leader-member-exchange. Contrary to predictions, the mediated impact of PPA on job satisfaction and stress was not moderated by interest in politics, tolerance for opposing political views, or company’s disclosure policies. However, our findings that the impact of PPA on job satisfaction and stress held across individuals with differing levels of general interest in politics, tolerance for diverse opinions, as well as across organizations with differing levels of acceptance of expression of political views in the workplace, suggests robust effects that generalize to many individuals, organizations and industries. Implications for how research and practice can leverage these results to address the role of national politics in workplace relations are addressed.

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