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Short-Lived Benefits for Abusive Supervisory Behavior

Last Updated: October 06, 2017.

Engaging in abusive supervisory behavior may be associated with short-term beneficial effects, but over longer periods of time, abusive supervisory behavior is negatively related to supervisors' recovery level and engagement, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in the Academy of Management Journal.

FRIDAY, Oct. 6, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- Engaging in abusive supervisory behavior may be associated with short-term beneficial effects, but over longer periods of time, abusive supervisory behavior is negatively related to supervisors' recovery level and engagement, according to a study published online Sept. 11 in the Academy of Management Journal.

Xin Qin, Ph.D., from the Sun Yat-sen University in Beijing, and colleagues developed and tested a model that specifies how and when engaging in abusive supervisor behavior has immediate benefits for supervisors, drawing upon conservation of resources theory. Two experiments and a multi-wave diary study were conducted across 10 consecutive workdays.

The researchers observed a correlation between engaging in abusive supervisory behavior and improved recovery level. Abusive supervisory behavior had a positive effect on work engagement, indirectly through recovery level. These beneficial effects were found to be short-lived in supplemental analyses; abusive supervisory behavior was negatively linked to supervisors' recovery level and engagement over longer periods of time. Personal and contextual factors impacted the strength of the short-lived beneficial effects; the observed effects were moderated by empathetic concern and job demands. After engaging in abusive supervisory behavior, fewer benefits were seen for supervisors with high empathic concern or low job demands.

"We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings, and propose future research directions," the authors write.

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