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Understanding internal, external, and relational attributions for abusive supervision

Authors

  • James P. Burton,

    Corresponding author
    1. College of Business, Department of Management, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, U.S.A.
    • Correspondence to: James P. Burton, College of Business, Department of Management, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115, U.S.A. E-mail: jburton@niu.edu

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  • Shannon G. Taylor,

    1. College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida, U.S.A.
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  • Larissa K. Barber

    1. College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Department of Psychology, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, U.S.A.
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Summary

Despite abundant research on the consequences of perceived abusive supervision, less is known about how employees develop perceptions of supervisory abuse. Across two studies, we integrate classic and recent theoretical work on attributions to understand the causal explanations underlying employee perceptions of and reactions to abusive supervision. In the first study, we develop measures of internal, external, and relational attributions for perceived supervisor abuse. In the second study, we demonstrate that internal and external attributions are indirectly related to aggressive and citizenship behaviors through employees' perceptions of interactional justice. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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