A trickle-down model of abusive supervision

By: Mary Bardes Mawritz, Dave M. Mayer, Jenny M. Hoobler, Sandy J. Wayne, Sophia V. Marinova

Mawritz, M. B., Mayer, D. M., Hoobler, J. M., Wayne, S. J., & Marinova, S. J. (2012). A trickle-down model of abusive supervision. Personnel Psychology, 65: 325-357.


Much of the abusive supervision research has focused on the supervisor–subordinate dyad when examining the effects of abusive supervision on employee outcomes. Using data from a large multisource field study, we extend this research by testing a trickle-down model of abusive supervision across 3 hierarchical levels (i.e., managers, supervisors, and employees). Drawing on social learning theory and social information processing theory, we find general support for the study hypotheses. Specifically, we find that abusive manager behavior is positively related to abusive supervisor behavior, which in turn is positively related to work group interpersonal deviance. In addition, hostile climate moderates the relationship between abusive supervisor behavior and work group interpersonal deviance such that the relationship is stronger when hostile climate is high. The results provide support for our trickle-down model in that abusive manager behavior was not only related to abusive supervisor behavior but was also associated with employees’ behavior 2 hierarchical levels below the manager.