A Moral Disengagement Investigation of How and When Supervisor Psychological Entitlement Instigates Abusive Supervision

Journal of Business Ethics 180 (2):675-694 (2022)


Building on the emerging research on antecedents of abusive supervision, the current research offers an empirical investigation concerning how and when supervisor psychological entitlement instigates abusive supervision in the workplace. Specifically, drawing on social cognitive theory, we develop and test a moderated-mediation model delineating the process that prompts psychologically entitled supervisors to become abusive towards subordinates. We argue that supervisor psychological entitlement facilitates supervisor moral disengagement, which subsequently incites supervisory abusive behaviors. We also argue that supervisor moral identity and core self-evaluation are likely to play an essential role in predicting the relationship between supervisor psychological entitlement and abusive supervision. We argue that supervisor psychological entitlement is more likely to instigate abusive supervision through moral disengagement when the magnitudes of supervisor MI and CSE are weaker. We test our theoretical model utilizing time-lagged, multisource data from a variety of organizations in the United States. We find general support for our hypotheses. We discuss implications for theory and practice as well as future research avenues.

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