When Core Self-Evaluations Influence Employees’ Deviant Reactions to Abusive Supervision: The Moderating Role of Cognitive Ability
Viewing workplace deviance within a victim precipitation framework, we explore how abusive supervisors target subordinates low in core self-evaluations (CSE) to explain when such employees respond by engaging in workplace deviance. We theorize that employees who are lower in CSE receive more abusive supervision, which generates subsequent harmful reactions toward supervisors, peers, and the organization. This occurs primarily when employees lack sufficient cognitive resources in dealing with supervisor abuse. We test, replicate, and extend our theoretical model in three empirical studies. Results demonstrate that lower employee CSE drew more abusive supervision and led low-CSE employees to exhibit workplace deviance. This abusive supervision mediation effect was stronger for employees with comparatively lower cognitive ability levels. The findings are discussed with regard to theoretical and ethical issues in confronting employee abuse.
KeywordsCore self-evaluations Abusive supervision Deviance Cognitive ability Moderated mediation
We lament the passing of Mark Bing, our friend and colleague. We wish to acknowledge Shannon G. Taylor for his assistance with this manuscript, Maureen L. Ambrose and James P. Burton for comments made on earlier versions of this manuscript, and Wonderlic Inc. for providing gratis copies of their measure of cognitive ability.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Declaration Helsinki and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study. This article does not contain any studies performed using animals.
- Aiken, S. L., & West, S. G. (1991). Multiple regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24, 452–471.Google Scholar
- Costa, P. T., Jr., & McCrae, R. R. (1992). NEO-PI-R professional manual. Odessa, FL: Psychological Assessment Resources.Google Scholar
- Fox, S., & Spector, P. E. (2010). Instrumental counterproductive work behavior and the theory of planned behavior: A “cold cognitive” approach to complement “hot affective” theories of CWB. In C. A. Schriesheim & L. L. Neider (Eds.), The “dark” side of management (pp. 93–114). Charlotte, NC: Information Age.Google Scholar
- Hershcovis, M. S., & Barling, J. (2007). Towards a relational model of workplace aggression. In J. Langan-Fox, C. L. Cooper, & R. J. Klimoski (Eds.), Research companion to the dysfunctional workplace: Management challenges and symptoms (pp. 268–284). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.Google Scholar
- Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Iliescu, D., & Livinţi, R. (2008). Romanian manual for GAMA—General ability measure for adults. Cluj-Napoca: Odiseea.Google Scholar
- International Test Commission. (2017). The ITC guidelines for translating and adapting tests (2nd ed.). Retrieved from http://www.intestcom.org/. Accessed 7 Feb 2018.
- Ispas, D., Iliescu, D., Ilie, A., & Johnson, R. E. (2010). Examining the criterion related validity of the general mental ability measure for adults: A two sample investigation. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 18, 224–227.Google Scholar
- Janoff-Bulman, R. (1992). Shattered assumptions—Towards a new psychology of trauma. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
- Kane, M. J., Conway, A. R. A., Hambrick, D. Z., & Engle, R. W. (2007). Variation in working memory capacity as variation in executive attention and control. In A. R. A. Conway, C. Jarrold, M. J. Kane, A. Miyake, & J. N. Towse (Eds.), Variation in working memory (pp. 21–48). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kiewitz, C., Restubog, S. L. D., Zagenczyk, T. J., Scott, K. D., Garcia, P. R. J. M., & Tang, R. L. (2012). Sins of the parents: Self-control as a buffer between supervisors’ previous experience of family undermining and subordinates’ perceptions of abusive supervision. The Leadership Quarterly, 23, 869–882.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Lewin, K. (1951). Field theory in social science: Selected theoretical papers (edited by Dorwin Cartwright.). Oxford: Harpers.Google Scholar
- Lian, H., Ferris, D. L., & Brown, D. J. (2012b). Does taking the good with the bad make things worse? How abusive supervision and leader-member exchange interact to impact need satisfaction and organizational deviance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 117, 41–52.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mackey, J. D., Brees, J. R., McAllister, C. P., Zorn, M., Martinko, M. J., & Harvey, P. (2016). Victim and culprit? The effects of entitlement and felt accountability on perceptions of abusive supervision and perpetration of workplace bullying. Journal of Business Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3348-7.Google Scholar
- Naglieri, J. A., & Bardos, A. N. (1997). General ability measure for adults. Minneapolis, MN: National Computer Systems.Google Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1978). Aggression in the schools: Bullies and whipping boys. Washington, DC: Hemisphere.Google Scholar
- Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Pearson, C. M., & Porath, C. L. (2005). On the nature, consequences and remedies of workplace incivility: No time for “nice”? Think again. Academy of Management Executive, 19, 7–18.Google Scholar
- Rode, J. C., Judge, T. A., & Sun, J. M. (2012). Incremental validity of core self-evaluations in the presence of other self-concept traits: An investigation of applied psychology criteria in the United States and China. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 19, 326–340.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Schmidt, F. L., & Hunter, J. (2004). General mental ability in the world of work: Occupational attainment and job performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86, 162–173.Google Scholar
- Wonderlic Inc. (2002). Wonderlic personnel test and scholastic level exam user’s manual. Libertyville, IL: Wonderlic Inc.Google Scholar