Lone wolves reciprocate less deviance: a moral identity model of abusive supervision*

Xiangfan Wu, Ho Kwong Kwan*, Yun Ma, Guowei Lai, Frederick H K Yim

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

    20 Citations (Scopus)


    Although previous studies provide diverse perspectives on the influences of abusive supervision, the moral perspective receives little attention in the literature. We rely on social cognitive theory to present a moral identity model of abusive supervision that accounts for the influences of perceiving abusive supervision on organizational and interpersonal deviance. In particular, we propose that employee moral identity mediates the positive relations between abusive supervision, as perceived by followers, and their subsequent organizational and interpersonal deviance. We also test the extent to which lone wolf tendencies alleviate the main negative impact of abusive supervision on moral identity and the indirect effect of abusive supervision on organizational and interpersonal deviance through moral identity. More specifically, when the level of lone wolf tendencies is high, the relationship between abusive supervision and moral identity, and the magnitude of the moral identity mediating mechanism will be weaker. Using multi-wave, multiple-source data collected in China, our findings support most of our hypotheses and offer insightful theoretical directions for mistreatment, morality, and disposition research. Our moderated mediation model serves as a springboard for future research to understand the social cognitive processes that link abusive supervision and deviant behavior from the moral perspective.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)859-885
    Number of pages27
    JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Apr 2020

    Scopus Subject Areas

    • Strategy and Management
    • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
    • Management of Technology and Innovation

    User-Defined Keywords

    • Abusive supervision
    • interpersonal deviance
    • lone wolf tendency
    • moral identity
    • organizational deviance


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