Work‐contingent self‐esteem: A boon or bane for worker well‐being? By: Kuykendall, Lauren; Craig, Lydia; and Tay, Louis. 2019. Journal of Organizational Behavior.

Work‐contingent self‐esteem (WCSE; the degree to which workers’ self‐esteem is based on workplace performance) has positive consequences for performance, yet less is known about its consequences for well‐being. In this paper, we contribute to the literature on WCSE by examining the mechanisms through which it impacts well‐being at work and outside of work. We challenge contingent self‐esteem (CSE) theory (Crocker & Park, 2004), which argues that CSE negatively impacts well‐being by fostering internally controlled (introjected) motivation and diminishing autonomous motivation, by suggesting that WCSE fosters autonomous and internally controlled motivation and thus has both beneficial and harmful effects on well‐being. We also expand CSE theory by suggesting that WCSE can negatively impact well‐being outcomes by causing work–nonwork conflict. Results from a time‐separated design in a sample of full‐time employees supported our arguments, revealing that WCSE impacted well‐being at work through both autonomous and internally controlled work motivations. WCSE also had negative effects on well‐being at and outside of work through work–nonwork conflict. The beneficial effects of WCSE outweighed its harmful effects on job satisfaction and neutralized its harmful effects for all other outcomes. We discuss theoretical implications for CSE theory, self‐determination theory, and work–nonwork issues and note important practical implications.