How to cope with an abusive leader? Examinations of subordinates’ affective reactions, CWB-O and turnover intentions

Wen Zhang, Jan Pletzer, Daantje Derks, Kimberley Breevaart, Xichao Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

When subordinates experience abusive supervision, they often respond with “fight” (e.g., organizationally-directed counterproductive work behavior: CWB-O) or “flight” reactions (e.g., turnover intentions). Drawing on cognitive appraisal theory, we propose that negative (NA) and positive affect (PA) explain these distinct responses and that coworker emotional support differentially moderates the relationships of affective states with CWB-O and turnover intention. That is, we expect that emotional support exacerbates the mediating effect of NA, whereas it weakens the mediating effect of PA. We tested the hypothesized model in two time-lagged studies, one among subordinates (N = 162), and the other among supervisor-subordinate dyads (N = 255 dyads). Results confirmed that the relation between abusive supervision and CWB-O was mediated by NA, and that the relation between abusive supervision and turnover intentions was mediated by PA. Coworker emotional support strengthened the mediating effect of NA, but it did not attenuate the mediating effect of PA. These results only hold for CWB-O, not for supervisor-rated CWB-O. Explanations, implications as well as limitations and ideas for future research are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-408
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Leadership & Organizational Studies
Volume29
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022

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© The Authors 2022.

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