Blame It on the Supervisor or the Subordinate? Reciprocal Relations Between Abusive Supervision and Organizational Deviance

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Abstract

Drawing on various theoretical perspectives, extant research has primarily treated subordinate organizational deviance as a consequence of abusive supervision. Yet, social interaction theories of aggression and victimization perspectives provide support for the opposite ordering, suggesting that subordinate organizational deviance may be an antecedent of abusive supervision. By using a cross-lagged panel design, we empirically test the potentially reciprocal relation between abusive supervision and subordinate organizational deviance. In Study 1, we measured both abusive supervision and organizational deviance at 2 separate times with a 20-month lag between measurement occasions and found evidence that subordinate organizational deviance leads to abusive supervision, but not vice versa. In Study 2, with a shorter time lag (i.e., 6 months), the reciprocal effects of abusive supervision and organizational deviance were supported. Furthermore, we found that the effects of abusive supervision on organizational deviance were moderated by subordinate self-control capacity and intention to quit such that the effects were only significant when subordinates had low self-control capacity and high intention to quit. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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