What is it about?
Using both experimental designs and field studies, the authors find that in sales context, supervisors can become angry toward their subordinates whose performance levels are too poor to bear and become envious of their subordinates with too good performance. These negative emotions can finally lead to supervisors' abuse of the extremely bad and good sales employees. For supervisors who tend to compare themselves with subordinates, they are more likely to envy and abuse super good performers.
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Why is it important?
This research highlights an important phenomenon that when performance of supervisors and subordinates are comparable such as in the sales context, this can induce adverse consequences for both subordinates below the average and those who are beyond the average.
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This page is a summary of: The mediating roles of supervisor anger and envy in linking subordinate performance to abusive supervision: A curvilinear examination., Journal of Applied Psychology, October 2023, American Psychological Association (APA), DOI: 10.1037/apl0001141.
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The mediating roles of supervisor anger and envy in linking subordinate performance to abusive supervision: A curvilinear examination.
Abstract This research aims to understand why both low and high subordinate performance can induce abusive supervision. Drawing on the framework of affective events theory and research on anger and envy, we posit that low performance incurs abuse due to supervisor anger, whereas high performance elicits abuse due to supervisor envy. More specifically, subordinate performance has a decreasing curvilinear relationship with supervisor anger (i.e., a negative effect that gradually dissipates) and an increasing curvilinear relationship with supervisor envy (i.e., a positive effect that gradually emerges). Through supervisor anger and envy, subordinate performance therefore presents different curvilinear indirect relationships with abusive supervision. The results from two vignette-based experiments and a multiwave, multisource field study support these hypotheses. We further find that supervisor comparison orientation augments the curvilinear emergence of supervisor envy and ensuing abuse in response to higher subordinate performance. However, regardless of their level of performance orientation, supervisors are prone to higher anger and subsequent abusive supervision in response to lower subordinate performance.
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