Machiavellian Traits in Public Service: Subordinate Silence and Workplace Abuse as By-products and the Moderation of Work Ethics among Public Servants in Anambra State

Madumelu H. C. Madubueze, Chukwuemeka E. Etodike, Rose U. Onyekwelu, Mathias O. Ananti


Counterproductive work behaviours such as employee silence and workplace abuse are growing in Nigeria public service. Considering their possible negative consequences on organizational efficiency/effectiveness; this study examined subordinate silence and workplace abuse as by-products of Machiavellian traits and the moderation of work ethics. The study sampled 594 public servants in Anambra State, Nigeria whose ages ranged from 23yrs to 56yrs with a mean age of 39.50yrs using multi-stage sampling technique (purposive, cluster and simple randomization). After data analysis, the result revealed that there is high rate of Machiavellian traits, subordinate silence and workplace abuse (M=58.6; M=31.4; and M = 20.5 respectively) while there is low work ethics (M=21.2) among employees. Also, positive correlations were found among Machiavellian traits, subordinate silence and workplace abuse at r(594) = .58; .54; and .67, p < .05 respectively while negative correlation was found between work ethics and Machiavellian traits at r(594) = -.60 p < .05; between work ethics and subordinate silence at r(569) = -.49, p < .05 and between work ethics and workplace abuse at r(594) = -.72, p < .05. In the regression model, Machiavellian traits positively predicted subordinate silence at β = 1.21**, P < .01 and workplace abuse at β = .92, p < .05 (n = 594). Also, work ethics negatively predicted Machiavellian traits at β = -.879 p < .05 (n = 594). Furthermore, in model 2 and 3, work ethics was found to moderate only the relationship between Machiavellian traits and subordinate silence at β = .129*, p < .01 and between Machiavellian traits and workplace abuse at β = .191**, p < .01 (n = 594). Findings imply that unhealthy exchange and social climate has negative employee outcomes which affects organizational effectiveness of Nigerian public sector.


Counterproductive work behavior; Machiavellian traits; Public servants; Subordinate silence; Work ethics; Workplace abuse

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