Abusive supervision and employee perceptions of leaders' implicit followership theories

In this study, I integrated research on abusive supervision and leaders' implicit followership theories (LIFTs; Sy, 2010). An important proposition of LIFTs theory is that matching between LIFTs and an employee's characteristics should yield the most positive employee outcomes; however, these matching effects in the LIFTs context have not yet been tested. Therefore, I examined the extent to which agreement and disagreement between employees' perceptions of their supervisor's LIFTs and employees' ratings of their own characteristics related to two outcomes - abusive supervision and LMX. Results from two samples of student employees supported the prediction that employee perceptions of supervisor LIFTs and their own characteristics would be associated with lower abusive supervision and higher LMX. In addition, perceived LIFTs and employee characteristics interacted such that employees who reported highly positive supervisor LIFTs and highly positive employee characteristics also reported the least abusive supervision and the highest quality relationships with their supervisor. The greater the discrepancy between employees' supervisor LIFTs ratings and their employee characteristics ratings, the higher the abusive supervision that they reported, supporting the matching hypothesis suggested by LIFTs theory. Finally, the level of discrepancy between employees' supervisor LIFTs ratings and their employee characteristics ratings significantly related to LMX only in one of the two samples, providing partial support for this hypothesis. Overall, this study shows that various combinations of perceived LIFTs and employee characteristics influence employee outcomes in important ways.
2014 Fall.
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leader-member exchange
implicit leadership theories
abusive supervision
implicit followership theories
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