Impact of Abusive Supervision on Employee Performance and Behavior

Impact of Abusive Supervision on Employee Performance and Behavior

Researchers from Portland State University conducted two studies to offer a comprehensive account of why abusive supervision affects organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and counterproductive work behavior (CWB)

Several studies that deal with abusive supervision rely on justice and resource perspectives to determine its impact on OCB—the voluntary extras an employee does that are not part of the job responsibilities and CWB. However, such studies fail to offer a comprehensive account of why abusive supervision affects OCB and CWB. Moreover, these studies also do not offer information about the severity of these two mediating mechanisms. Now, a team of researchers from Portland State University used meta-analytic structural equation modeling in two studies to suggest that abusive supervision behavior in employers or bosses is more likely to result in reports of unfairness and work stress among employees. This may further result in diminished work commitment in employees or even promote them to retaliate.

According to Liu-Qin Yang, the study’s co-author and an associate professor of industrial-organizational psychology in Portland State University’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, abusive supervision is becoming increasingly common in workplaces. The team analyzed 427 primary studies that combined 973 independent correlations to improve the understanding on why and how bullying bosses can decrease OCB and increase CWB. The team found that both organizational justice and work stress lead to the influence of abusive supervision on OCB and CWB. Moreover, organizational justice had a major share in abusive supervision’s effect on OCB as compared to work stress. Work stress had a larger impact on supervision’s effect on CWB compared to organizational justice.

The team also conducted moderation analyses and found that the effect of abusive supervision on CWB was robust in men compared to females. The team suggested to implement fair policies and procedures to reduce employees’ perceptions of injustice in the organization. These measures may include, introduction of regular training programs that promote managers learn and implement more robust interpersonal and management skills for employee interactions. Ensuring that employees have enough resources to perform their task can also be an efficient measure. The research was published in the Journal of Management on January 18, 2019.

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