Psychology Ph.D. Dissertations

Exploring Potential Downsides of Job Crafting

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)



First Advisor

Scott Highhouse (Committee Chair)

Second Advisor

Samuel McAbee (Committee Member)

Third Advisor

Eric Dubow (Committee Member)

Fourth Advisor

Beth Sanders (Committee Member)


Past research has focused on positive antecedents and outcomes of job crafting at the expense of considering any potential costs or downsides that may arise from this behavior. Although job crafting is defined as a volitional, employee-driven process (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001), certain work environments and situations may create external forces, such as constraints or pressures, that motivate employees to engage in job crafting. Although some researchers have begun to explore detrimental forms of job crafting, such as avoidance job crafting (Bruning & Campion, 2019), there has been no focus on whether the motivation behind job crafting matters for the outcomes experienced. To address this, two studies were developed to examine the relation between job crafting motivation and counterproductive work behavior through the lens of cognitive sensemaking and attributions. Study 1 used a cross-sectional design with a sample of 636 working adults from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to provide initial evidence of an association between externally-motivated job crafting and CWB. Study 2 employed an experimental design using a subsample of participants from Study 1 (n = 338) to provide an alternative test of the hypothesized externally-motivated job crafting-CWB relation. For Study 2, vignettes were used to experimentally manipulate whether job crafting was internally- versus externally-motivated and participants were then asked to reflect on how much CWB they anticipated a typical worker to engage in if they experienced the conditions outlined in the vignette. Results from both studies supported the assertion that externally-motivated job crafting, but not internally-motivated job crafting, is associated with increased CWB. These findings provide evidence that the motivation behind why an employee job crafts plays an important role in determining why and when they might also engage in CWB, challenging the perception that job crafting is associated only with positive outcomes. The current research also refutes the idea that job crafting is a fully internal process driven only by individual needs and preferences. Given this initial evidence of the potential downsides of job crafting, future research should more thoroughly explore the full range of job crafting antecedents and how each may differentially relate to beneficial and/or detrimental outcomes.