Angry but not Deviant: Employees’ Prior-Day Deviant Behavior Toward the Family Buffers Their Reactions to Abusive Supervisory Behavior

Abstract

Integrating affective events theory, work-family compensation, and moral balance theory, the present study proposes a model that examines how and when abusive supervisory behavior is related to employees’ deviant behavior toward their supervisor. Using a diary method that involved two surveys per day over two weeks, we found support for our model based on 707 daily observations from 130 employees. Specifically, anger toward one’s supervisor mediated the relationship between abusive supervisory behavior and deviant behavior toward one’s supervisor. In addition, the degree to which employees engaged in deviant behavior toward their supervisor depended on their prior-day deviant behavior toward their family. When employees engaged in lower prior-day deviant behavior toward their family, anger toward their supervisor was positively related to subsequent deviant behavior toward their supervisor. In contrast, when employees had higher prior-day deviant behavior toward their family, the relationship between anger toward their supervisor and deviant behavior toward their supervisor was weaker. We conclude by discussing the implications of our findings for research on abusive supervision, work-family interface, and moral balance theory.

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Fig. 1
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Notes

  1. 1.

    We controlled for the effect of daily abusive supervisory behavior on deviant behavior toward the family in our research.

  2. 2.

    We conducted multi-group invariance analyses to determine whether the deviant behavior toward the family measure was invariant across groups with (a) different spousal status (married/partnered vs. not) and (b) child status (having a child or not). Specifically, we examined two forms of invariance: (a) configural invariance, which pertains to the same factor structure being measured in different groups, and (b) metric invariance, which assesses whether the measures are calibrated to the construct in the same way in different groups (Chan 1998; Ployhart and Vandenberg 2010; Vandenberg and Lance 2000; Vandenberg and Morelli 2016). We examined whether change of chi-square between the configural model and the metric model was significant, with a non-significant chi-square difference indicating metric invariance (Vandenberg and Lance 2000). We used deviant behavior toward the family from the first survey for the multi-group invariance analyses. First, we examined whether the deviant behavior toward the family measure was invariant as a function of spousal status. The difference between the configural model (χ2 = 38.38, df = 10) and the metric model (χ2 = 45.68, df = 14) was not statistically significant (Δχ2 = 7.30, Δdf = 4, p = .12). Second, we examined whether the deviant behavior toward the family measure was invariant as a function of child status. The difference between the configural model (χ2 = 29.38, df = 10) and the metric model (χ2 = 37.37, df = 14) was also not statistically significant (Δχ2 = 7.99, Δdf = 4, p = .09).

  3. 3.

    We thank one anonymous reviewer for suggesting this control variable.

  4. 4.

    We thank one anonymous reviewer for suggesting this analysis.

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Li, A., Liao, C., Shao, P. et al. Angry but not Deviant: Employees’ Prior-Day Deviant Behavior Toward the Family Buffers Their Reactions to Abusive Supervisory Behavior. J Bus Ethics (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-021-04750-2

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Keywords

  • Abusive supervisory behavior
  • Family deviant behavior
  • Affective events theory
  • Moral balance theory
  • Work-family compensation