We draw from ego depletion and leader–member exchange (i.e., LMX) theories to provide nuanced insight into why abusive supervision is indirectly associated with supervisor-directed destructive voice. A multi-wave, multi-source field study (n = 219) demonstrates evidence that abusive supervision has a positive conditional indirect effect on supervisor-directed destructive voice through subordinates’ relational ego depletion with their supervisors that is stronger for higher LMX differentiation contexts than lower LMX differentiation contexts. We make novel theoretical, empirical, and practical contributions by providing a parsimonious explanation for why relational aspects of supervisory treatment (i.e., abusive supervision and LMX differentiation) drain subordinates’ capacities for controlling their volitional actions during interactions with their supervisors (i.e., relational ego depletion) and how this relationship impacts subordinates’ supervisor-directed destructive voice. Overall, our study extends the application of ego depletion and LMX theories to the examination of abusive supervision and destructive voice in order to meaningfully inform researchers’ attempts to build cohesive streams of research in these areas and practitioners’ attempts to promote ethical workplace environments.
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The National Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71402061) provided a grant for Wei He that was used to fund the data collection for this study.
Conflict of interest
All of the study authors declare that they have no conflicts 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 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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Mackey, J.D., Huang, L. & He, W. You Abuse and I Criticize: An Ego Depletion and Leader–Member Exchange Examination of Abusive Supervision and Destructive Voice. J Bus Ethics 164, 579–591 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-4024-x
- Abusive supervision
- Ego depletion