When Do Supervisors Support Followers? Role of Perceived Follower Support



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Prior research found that supervisors’ perception that their subordinates value their contributions and care about their well-being (perceived follower support, or PFS) was positively related to subordinates’ belief that they were well treated by their supervisors (supportive supervision). The present research examined supervisor’s dispositional variables and work context as moderators of this relationship. Since this relationship might involve social exchange between supervisors and followers, I studied six supervisors’ dispositional variables as moderators that were related to supervisors’ exchange beliefs and socio-emotional needs such as the need for emotional support. Moreover, because stress should deplete supervisors’ time and energy and limit their abilities to display supportive supervision, I studied the influence of stressors on the relationship between PFS and supportive supervision. I collected data from 3 organizations in China (one automobile company, one manufacturing company, and one restaurant) which included 689 employees, 134 supervisors, and 55 managers. I found supervisors’ creditor ideology and supervisors’ need for emotional support strengthened the relationship between PFS and supportive supervision; this, in turn, increased manager-rated team performance. The findings of this study suggest that some supervisors are more susceptible to employees’ upward influence than others depending on supervisors’ characteristics such as creditor ideology and need for emotional support. These findings have practical implications in maximizing the effects of PFS and employees’ upward influences.



Perceived follower support, Supportive supervision, Team performance