When the abuse is unevenly distributed: The effects of abusive supervision variability on work attitudes and behaviors


  • Babatunde Ogunfowora

    Corresponding author
    1. Goodman School of Business, Brock University, St. Catharines, ON, Canada
    • Correspondence to: Babatunde Ogunfowora, Goodman School of Business, Brock University, 500 Glenridge Avenue, St. Catharines, ON L2S 3A1, Canada. E-mail: togunfowora@brocku.ca

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The present study examined the consequences of a dispersion-based conceptualization of unit-level abusive supervision or abusive supervision variability. Abusive supervision variability was proposed to negatively affect a number of employee attitudes and behaviors through the mediating effects of interpersonal justice climate strength. The results revealed significant cross-level effects such that abusive supervision variability was negatively related to individual perceptions of leader ethicality, organizational ethicality, leader satisfaction, and affective organizational commitment. These effects remained robust after controlling for individual-level abusive supervision. Abusive supervision variability was also positively related to the frequency with which unit members as a whole engaged in counterproductive work behaviors. Last, the results revealed partial support for the mediating effects of interpersonal justice climate strength. In sum, the findings highlight the importance of examining abusive supervision at both the individual and unit levels of analyses. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.