What is it about?

Status has a central role in workplace incivility research. Although status is associated with a variety of benefits at work, we draw upon the relational model of authority and the status maintenance argument to propose that individuals with high status are more strongly affected by the experience of supervisor incivility than those with lower status. We tested this hypothesis by examining the relationships between supervisor incivility and turnover intentions, organizational deviance, and task performance, and proposed that the exacerbating effect of status could be explained by the extent to which employees feel that they are valued, cared for, and supported by their organization and supervisor (i.e., perceived organizational and supervisory support [POS and PSS]). Based on the structural equation modelling (SEM) analyses of supervisor–subordinate dyad data collected from a large organization in Thailand, our findings confirmed that the adverse effects of supervisor incivility on follower outcomes were more pronounced among those with higher status. The results also showed that these effects were differentially mediated by POS and PSS. Whereas POS mediated the effect of supervisor incivility on turnover intentions and organizational deviance, it was found that PSS mediated the effect of supervisor incivility on task performance. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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Why is it important?

1. Managers should pay particular attention to the type of relationships they develop with their employees. Our work suggests that rude behaviours from authority figures can contribute to employee turnover intentions, deviant behaviours, and poor performance. 2.Despite the benefits associated with having high status in the workplace, our findings suggest that high‐status employees are more strongly affected by the experience of supervisory incivility. 3.To buffer these effects, organizations should create a work environment in which employees feel valued, cared for, and supported. Our findings indicate that the negative aspects of these perceptions are partly responsible for the effects of supervisor incivility.


This findings of this research resonates with my own personal experience as well as the experience of others working in public sector organizations. When managers mistreat their employees, it can have significant adverse effects on the well-being, attitudes and work behaviors, especially those with higher status. These individuals tend to value their status more than others and, as we found, are more likely to feel relationally devalued when they are mistreated by their supervisors. These findings suggest that those who are regarded as high performers in their organizations (e.g., attained status) may be particularly vulnerable to this type of interpersonal mistreatment.

Wisanupong Potipiroon

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This page is a summary of: Relational costs of status: Can the relationship between supervisor incivility, perceived support, and follower outcomes be exacerbated?, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, March 2019, Wiley, DOI: 10.1111/joop.12263.
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