Joint Influences of Individual and Work Unit Abusive Supervision on Ethical Intentions and Behaviors: A Moderated Mediation Model

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Abstract

We develop and test a model based on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1991) that links abusive supervision to followers’ ethical intentions and behaviors. Results from a sample of 2,572 military members show that abusive supervision was negatively related to followers’ moral courage and their identification with the organization’s core values. In addition, work unit contexts with varying degrees of abusive supervision, reflected by the average level of abusive supervision reported by unit members, moderated relationships between the level of abusive supervision personally experienced by individuals and both their moral courage and their identification with organizational values. Moral courage and identification with organizational values accounted for the relationship between abusive supervision and followers’ ethical intentions and unethical behaviors. These findings suggest that abusive supervision may undermine moral agency and that being personally abused is not required for abusive supervision to negatively influence ethical outcomes.

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