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Keywords:

  • abusive supervision;
  • counterproductive work behaviour;
  • organisational citizenship behaviour;
  • toxic emotions at work

Aim

This study explores whether abusive supervision can effectively predict employees' counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) and the role of toxic emotions at work as a potential mediator of these relationships in nursing settings.

Background

Workplace bullying is widespread in nursing. Despite the growing literature on abusive supervision and employees' counterproductive work behaviour and organisational citizenship behaviour, few studies have examined the relationships between abusive supervision and these work behaviours from the viewpoint of the victimed employee's emotion process.

Methods

This study adopted a two-stage survey of 212 nurses, all of whom were employed by hospitals in Taiwan. Hypotheses were tested through the use of hierarchical multiple regression.

Results

The results showed that abusive supervision was positively associated with toxic emotions. Moreover, toxic emotions could effectively predict nurses' counterproductive work behaviour and organisational citizenship behaviour. Finally, it was found that toxic emotions partially mediated the negative effects of abusive supervision on both work behaviours.

Conclusion

Toxic emotions at work are a critical mediating variable between abusive supervision and both counterproductive work behaviour and organisational citizenship behaviour. Hospital administrators can implement policies designed to manage events effectively that can spark toxic emotions in their employees.

Implications for nursing management

Work empowerment may be an effective way to reduce counterproductive work behaviour and to enhance organisational citizenship behaviour among nurses when supervisors do not promote a healthy work environment for them.