Because Nice Matters: The Effects of Abusive Supervision on Employee Interpersonal Deviance



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Workplace deviance costs organizations billions of dollars annually (Bennett & Robinson, 2000) and is responsible for approximately 20% of all business failures (Coffin, 2003). This research examined the potential importance of supervisor abuse, emotional exhaustion, and agreeableness in explaining interpersonal deviance at work. I propose a conceptual model based on the conservation of resources theory and the job demands-resources model asserting that abusive supervision has a direct and an indirect effect on interpersonal deviance through emotional exhaustion; furthermore, this relationship is conditional, such that subordinates high rather than low in agreeableness are more inclined to engage in interpersonal deviance. Data were collected from 347 professional employees who occupied staff roles in a public sector organization. Results indicated that the relationship between reported abusive supervision and interpersonal deviance was fully mediated by emotional exhaustion. Furthermore, this relationship was moderated by employee agreeableness, such that employees who are low in agreeableness were more likely to report engaging in interpersonal deviance.



Abusive supervision, Emotional exhaustion, Interpersonal Deviance, Agreeableness