The Management Department
Department Seminar Series
Tuesday, February 13th 2018
Room N517 at 10:00 am (5:00 p.m in Singapore)
Theme: “Is it me or you? – How reactions to abusive supervision are shaped by leader behavior
and follower perceptions”
Abstract: There is a growing interest in understanding the perceptual and attributional processes involved in reactions towards abusive leadership. Our research examines the influence of different leadership (constructive, laissez faire, low and high abusive) behaviors on follower reactions in two experimental studies. We also conducted a field study to validate our results further. Specifically, we focus on the role of perception of abusive supervision as a mediator (in the experimental studies) between leader abusive behavior and reactions as well as attribution as a moderator in the relationship between perception of abusive supervision and reactions. After conducting a pre-study, data from several samples were collected using first, a two point experimental design with vignettes (Study 1 and 2) and, second, a cross-sectional field study (Study 3). Regression analyses using bootstrapping as well as moderated regressions were used to test the hypotheses. Experimental variation of leadership behavior results in systematic differences in perceptions and reactions towards behaviors. Perception partly mediates the relationship between leadership behavior and reactions (Study 1 and 2). We also found that attribution moderates the relationship between the perception of abusive supervision and reactions in both Study 2 and 3. The differences in results between the studies reflect that in Study 1 and 2 abusive behavior was manipulated and in Study 3 actual leader behavior was assessed. The research presented here adds to our understanding of the processes involved in how abusive leadership influences reactions and the role that followers’ perceptions and attributions play in this relationship. Our research can help leaders to better understand their own role and the followers’ role for the perception of abusive supervision and reactions towards those behaviors. Our results highlight that the avoidance of abusive supervision should be taken seriously and followers’ perception and suffering is not only due to subjective judgment but reflects actual differences in behavior. However, in practice, abusive behaviors might sometimes be ambiguous.