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Abusive Supervision and Workload Demands from Supervisors: Exploring Two Types of Supervisor-related Stressors and their Association with Strain


Correspondence: Tsung-Yu Wu, Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology 43, Sec. 4, Keelung Rd., Taipei 106, Taiwan.



Our study aimed to identify two types of stressors from supervisors: abusive supervision (AS) and workload demands from supervisors (WDS). AS reflects the relationship dimension of supervisor-related stressors, and WDS reflects the task dimension of supervisor-related stressors. In Study 1, we attempted to distinguish between AS and WDS. The results of confirmatory factor analysis showed that AS and WDS are two distinct dimensions of supervisor-related stressors. In Study 2, we utilized job demands–resources model and investigated whether AS and WDS can uniquely predict subordinates' emotional exhaustion (EE). We also explored whether perceived job characteristics (PJCs) have differential moderating effects on the relationships between the two dimensions of supervisor-related stressors (AS and WDS) and EE. Consistent with our predictions, the results showed that both AS and WDS have incremental predictive effects on EE after controlling for the effect of the other. The results also revealed that PJCs weaken the WDS–EE relationship, not the AS–EE relationship. We discussed the theoretical and practical implications at the end. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.