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Attributions for abusive supervision: Who do subordinates blame and does it matter?

Authors
  • Kedharnath, Uma1
  • Henle, Christine A2
  • Mumford, Troy2
  • 1 Department of Management, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, 4501 Timothy J. Hyland Hall, 809 W. Starin Road, Whitewater, Wisconsin, 53190, USA.
  • 2 Department of Management, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80523, USA.
Type
Published Article
Journal
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology
Publisher
Wiley (Blackwell Publishing)
Publication Date
Feb 01, 2024
Volume
65
Issue
1
Pages
1–15
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1111/sjop.12947
PMID: 37399270
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Drawing on attribution theory, we propose in Study 1 that subordinates' supervisor-directed responses to abusive supervision depend upon their causal attributions for the abuse. Using a scenario-based study (N = 183), we test a moderated mediation model in which the entity blamed for abusive supervision (supervisor, organization, self) is expected to predict subordinates' behavioral intentions toward their supervisor via affective responses (supervisor disliking). This relationship will be exacerbated when subordinates perceive the cause of abusive supervision as stable. We found that subordinates who blamed themselves or the organization for the abuse disliked their supervisor less and had higher OCB-supervisor intentions, and this relationship was stronger when subordinates perceived the cause of abuse as stable. Disliking mediated the relationship between supervisor attributions and OCB-supervisor, but this relationship is not moderated by perceived stability. In Study 2, we explore whether there are additional entities that are blamed for abusive supervision and the reasons they are held accountable. We examined qualitative responses (N = 107) from abused subordinates to find that they most commonly blame their supervisor, themselves, and the organization for abusive supervision. However, subordinates occasionally blame their relationship with their supervisor and their work group. © 2023 The Authors. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology published by Scandinavian Psychological Associations and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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