Employees in the face of abusive supervision: Using personal, social and environment resources as coping mechanisms
Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/14825
Abusive supervision and its effects on employee work outcomes and well-being has been the focus of attention of academic researchers and practitioners for the last two decades. Not everyone has the confidence and support to report these abusive supervisory behaviours or access to alternate job opportunities due to economic and financial constraints. This thesis explores what employees do in the face of abusive supervision with an overarching question, “How do employees cope with abusive supervision?”. In order to explore this in detail, three studies were carried out as part of the thesis. The study 1 was a systematic literature review of all the coping mechanisms studies carried out until 2020. The literature review found that employees use resources (personal, social, or environment) as moderating mechanisms to buffer or cope with the detrimental effect of abusive supervision. It also analysed the key theories used to understand the operations of the coping mechanisms and provide some significant future research directions that guided the framework for two empirical studies included in the thesis. Next, the study 2 analysed multiple coping strategies for abusive supervision, as pointed out in the literature review. It addressed the gaps by examining employee’s personal (psychological empowerment, resilience), social (workplace friendships) and environment (structural empowerment) resources to cope with the effects of abusive supervision. Utilizing the tenets of COR theory, the study found that damage to psychological empowerment plays a significant role in diminishing the work engagement and creativity of employees, as compared to structural empowerment. While workplace friendships play a significant role in buffering the effects of abusive supervision on work engagement and creativity of employees via structural empowerment. Lastly, study 3 is guided by the future research directions of study 1 and 2. This study explored the coping mechanisms of employee mindfulness (a personal resource) on abusive supervision and employee well-being (work engagement and burnout) via organizational identification (a social resource) in two different cultural contexts: Pakistan and New Zealand. Drawing on the conservation of resources (COR) theory, the study found that organisational identification mediates the relationship between abusive supervision and employee work engagement for both samples. However, employee mindfulness only buffered the harmful impact of abusive supervision in the Pakistan sample. The study reveals new insights into the impact of personal, social and environment/ organisational resources on abusive supervision, providing directions for future research and practice.
The University of Waikato
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