The Dark Side of Leadership: Abusive Supervision Research at Team- or Cross-Level of Analysis

A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X). This special issue belongs to the section "Organizational Behaviors".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2024 | Viewed by 2749

Special Issue Editor

School of Business, Macau University of Science and Technology, Macau, China
Interests: strategic HRM; diversity; leadership; creativity; workplace justice

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abusive supervision is defined as “subordinates’ perceptions of the extent to which supervisors engage in the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact” (Tepper, 2000: 178). Since the construct was introduced (see Tepper, 2000), a significant body of relevant empirical work has accumulated (Tepper et al., 2017). Abusive supervision is viewed as a dark side leadership that has negative practical implications (Aryee et al., 2007). 

Fischer and colleagues’ (2021) review suggests that studies of abusive supervision using multilevel and team-level design only account for 3.27% of total number of samples (n=490). Considering the main effects and boundary conditions of organization- or unit-factors is an area where additional research would be helpful (Martinko et al., 2013; Tepper, 2007). Future work can further explore the effect of cross-level factors in this line of research (Zhang and Liao, 2015). Examples of contextual factors are organic versus mechanistic organizational structure (Aryee et al., 2008) and hostile work climates (Mawritz et al., 2012). In social science research, data tend to be characterized by a nested structure, and multilevel modeling allows the analysis of nested data (Yu et al., 2020). Similarly, relatively few studies have examined team-level abusive supervision, such as abusive supervision climate (e.g., Priesemuth et al., 2014) and abuse supervision differentiation (e.g., Ogunfowora et al., 2021; Sun et al., 2017). Briefly, cross-level and team-level empirical studies on abusive supervision are the topics and concerns of this Special Issue. 

Studies submitted to this Special Issue are required to use data collected from multisource (e.g., both subordinates and supervisors) over multiple time periods (e.g., time 1 and time 2) if authors rely on surveys to obtain their data.


Aryee, S., Chen, Z. X., Sun, L.-Y., & Debrah, Y. A. 2007. Antecedents and outcomes of abusive supervision: Test of a trickle-down model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92: 191-201.

Aryee, S., Sun, L.-Y., Chen, Z. X. G., & Debrah, Y. A. 2008. Abusive supervision and contextual performance: The mediating role of emotional exhaustion and the moderating role of work unit structure. Management and Organization Review, 4: 393–411.

Fischer, T., Tian, A.W., Lee, A., & Hughes, D.J. 2021. Abusive supervision: A systematic review and fundamental rethink. The Leadership Quarterly, 32: 101540.  

Martinko, M., Harvey, P., Brees, J., & Mackey, J. 2013. A review of abusive supervision research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34 (S1): S120–S137.

Mawritz, M. B., Mayer, D. M., Hoobler, J. M., Wayne, S. J., & Marinova, S. V. 2012. A trickle-down model of abusive supervision. Personnel Psychology, 65:325–357.

Ogunfowora, B., Weinhardt, J.M., & Hwang, C.C. 2021. Abusive supervision differentiation and employee outcomes: the roles of envy, resentment, and insecure group attachment, Journal of Management, 47: 623-653.

Priesemuth, M., Schminke, M., Ambrose, M. L., & Folger, R. 2014. Abusive supervision climate: a multiplemediation model of its impact on group outcomes. Academy of Management Journal, 57:1513–1534.

Sun, L-Y., Li, CW., & Leung, A. 2017. Abusive supervision differentiation and team performance: Exploring main and contingent effects. Academy of Management Proceedings.

Tepper, B. J. 2000. Consequences of abusive supervision. Academy of Management Journal, 43: 178–190.

Tepper, B. J. 2007. Abusive supervision in work organizations: Review, synthesis, and research agenda. Journal of Management, 33: 261–289.

Tepper, B. J., Simon, L., & Park, H. M. 2017. Abusive supervision. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 4: 123–152.

Yu, Y., Xu, S., Li, G., & Kong, H. 2020. A systematic review of research on abusive supervision in hospitality and tourism. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 32; 2473-2496.

Zhang, Y., & Liao, Z. 2015. Consequences of abusive supervision: A meta-analytic review. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 32: 959–987.

Dr. Li-Yun Sun
Guest Editor

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  • abusive supervision
  • cross-level of analysis
  • team level

Published Papers (1 paper)

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15 pages, 676 KiB  
Do Victims Really Help Their Abusive Supervisors? Reevaluating the Positive Consequences of Abusive Supervision
by Wen Pan and Li-Yun Sun
Behav. Sci. 2023, 13(10), 815; - 3 Oct 2023
Viewed by 1117
Do victims really help their abusive supervisors? Does abusive supervision have any positive consequence? The study aims to address this concern through extending the work by Tröster and Van Quaquebeke (2021). Using subordinates’ self-reports, Tröster and Van Quaquebeke (2021) found that abusive supervision [...] Read more.
Do victims really help their abusive supervisors? Does abusive supervision have any positive consequence? The study aims to address this concern through extending the work by Tröster and Van Quaquebeke (2021). Using subordinates’ self-reports, Tröster and Van Quaquebeke (2021) found that abusive supervision in high-quality leader–member exchange (LMX) relationship motivates subordinates to blame themselves, subsequently making them feel guilty and make up for it by being more helpful. By integrating both subordinates’ and supervisors’ perspectives, and using multi-wave, multi-source, and multi-level data collected in China, we obtain three major findings. First, as a replication of their findings, LMX moderates the direct effect of abusive supervision on workplace self-blame, and the indirect effect of abusive supervision on workplace guilt via workplace self-blame. The positive direct and indirect effects are stronger when LMX quality is higher. Second, different from their findings, LMX moderates the indirect effect of abusive supervision on supervisor-directed helping (evaluated by supervisors) via workplace self-blame and workplace guilt such that the negative indirect effect is stronger when LMX quality is higher. Third, as an extension, supervisor-evaluated LMX (SLMX) moderates the effect of workplace guilt on supervisor-directed helping such that the negative effect is stronger when SLMX is lower-quality. Put together, LMX and SLMX moderate the indirect effect of abusive supervision on supervisor-directed helping via workplace self-blame and workplace guilt. The negative indirect effect is stronger when LMX quality is higher, but SLMX quality is lower. Our study challenges previous speculations on the positive or beneficial consequences of abusive supervision, and thus contributes to the literature on abusive supervision. Full article
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