Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Abusive Supervision and Employees’ Job Performance: A Multiple Mediation Model

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Abusive Supervision and Employees’ Job Performance: A Multiple Mediation Model

Article excerpt

Abusive supervision (AS) has been defined as "subordinates' perceptions of the extent to which their supervisors engage in the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact" (Tepper, 2000, p. 178). Due to the significant negative effects of AS, research interest in this topic has increased over the past 15 years. Tepper (2000) reported that AS affected more than 13% of the U.S. workforce, and there is considerable evidence that such behavior has a severe psychological impact on employees, which manifests as reduced affective commitment of the employee to the employing organization (Babatunde, 2013), a less positive perception of organizational justice (Aryee, Sun, Chen, & Debrah, 2008), reduced wellbeing (Lian, Ferris, & Brown, 2012), increased emotional exhaustion (Wheeler, Halbesleben, & Whitman, 2013), increased turnover (Rodwell, Brunetto, Demir, Shacklock, & Farr-Wharton, 2014), and counterproductive behavior (Wei & Si, 2013). Although the findings reported in extant research have substantially enhanced understanding of the negative consequences of AS, these have not yet been fully elaborated. The focus in most research on mechanisms acting as mediators in the effects of AS has been on individual emotional and cognitive processes (e.g., Henle & Gross, 2014; Wheeler et al., 2013); markedly less work has been done on the combined effects of perceptions of organizational justice, leader-member exchange (LMX), and self-concept of employees' on employees' job performance (EJP). The voice of organizational authority leaders is the main determinant of employees' perceptions of their working environment, which contains factors at three levels: organization, leader-member relationship, and self-concept. These perceptions may work together to affect EJP. Therefore, in our study we explored the mechanisms underlying AS from these three perspectives.

Moreover, understanding the role of cultural factors is critical to understanding the mechanisms of AS, because employees' cultural values are an important influence on how they react to processes and conditions in the work environment (Lin, Wang, & Chen, 2013). For example, scholars have indicated that employees holding the authority orientation in a high-power-distance culture are more sensitive to AS when compared with those in a low-power-distance culture (Lin et al., 2013). We, therefore, explored the relationship between AS and EJP from the three perspectives we have described in a Chinese cultural setting.

In organizational justice theory, it is emphasized that as leaders are an embodiment of the organization, leadership justice is the most important element of organizational justice (Cropanzano, Bowen, & Gilliland, 2007). In LMX theory it is contended that, because of constraints on time and energy, a leader can interact well with only a few subordinates, who may thus gain more opportunity to obtain resources and benefits than do the other subordinates (Dansereau, Graen, & Haga, 1975). This implies that employees in relationshipand authority-orientated cultural contexts (such as China), compared to those in Western cultures, are more proactive in establishing a relationship with a leader who has a decisive role in the employees' access to available resources and benefits, and a leader certainly has reciprocal obligations with his/her employees. In such a context, comparing the quality of the leader-member relationship (i.e., high LMX and close relationship; low LMX and distant relationship) will become meaningful for the employee and will affect his or her perception of leadership justice. Thus, we argued that employees involved in reciprocal leader-member relationships would have an implicit expectation of justice, and employees who experience AS may have a negative perception of justice and may respond to this unbalanced supervisor-subordinate relationship through a decline in the quality of their job performance. …

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