Why Are Supervisors Rude to Some Employees but Not Others? Examining How and When Neuroticism Increases Vulnerability for Experiencing Supervisor Instigated Incivility



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Supervisor instigated workplace incivility is discourteous behavior from a supervisor that is targeted at a subordinate, is usually low intensity, and has ambiguous intent to harm. This deviant and rude behavior from supervisors is associated with negative personal and organizational costs. However, it is not clear why some employees are more vulnerable to experiencing supervisor instigated incivility than other employees. Drawing on the criminology based theories of precipitated victimization and target vulnerability, we examine the role of target personality on vulnerability to supervisor instigated incivility and we assess submissive response to incivility as a behavioral mechanism for why certain employees are at higher risk for incivility from their supervisors. To do this, we utilize multi-source survey data from employees and their coworkers (N = 179 employee-coworker pairs) collected from delegated sampling methods for employees who work at least 30 hours a week. Our results suggest that target neuroticism and agreeableness are significant predictors of supervisor instigated incivility and are related to incivility indirectly through their influence on target submissive response to experiencing incivility. These findings sheds light on how target personality and behavioral factors are related to increased supervisor instigated incivility vulnerability to help organizations provide targeted interventions for at risk employees.



Incivility, Supervisor instigated Incivility Neuroticism, Agreeableness