Supervisors' emotional exhaustion and abusive supervision: The moderating roles of perceived subordinate performance and supervisor self-monitoring

Catherine K. Lam*, Frank Walter, Xu HUANG

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Drawing from conservation of resources theory, this study aims to create new knowledge on the antecedents of abusive supervision. Results across 2 independent field studies within a manufacturing context (Study 1) and a customer service context (Study 2) consistently demonstrated a 3-way interaction pattern, such that supervisors' experiences of emotional exhaustion, perceived subordinate performance, and self-monitoring were jointly associated with subordinates' abusive supervision perceptions. A supplementary scenario experiment further corroborated this pattern. Together, the present studies illustrate a contingency model of abusive supervision's origins, highlighting emotional exhaustion as an important risk factor that is particularly likely to trigger abusive behavior among supervisors with lower (rather than higher) self-monitoring who are faced with a relatively underperforming subordinate. As such, this research advances the abusive supervision literature by offering new insights into the complex resource conservation processes that may give rise to subordinates' abuse perceptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1151-1166
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Volume38
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Psychology(all)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

User-Defined Keywords

  • abusive supervision
  • emotional exhaustion
  • self-monitoring

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