Suffering in silence: Investigating the role of fear in the relationship between abusive supervision and defensive silence

Christian Kiewitz, Simon Lloyd D. Restubog, Mindy K. Shoss, Patrick Raymund James M. Garcia, Robert L. Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Drawing from an approach-avoidance perspective, we examine the relationships between subordinates' perceptions of abusive supervision, fear, defensive silence, and ultimately abusive supervision at a later time point. We also account for the effects of subordinates' assertiveness and individual perceptions of a climate of fear on these predicted mediated relationships. We test this moderated mediation model with data from three studies involving different sources collected across various measurement periods. Results corroborated our predictions by showing (a) a significant association between abusive supervision and subordinates' fear, (b) second-stage moderation effects of subordinates' assertiveness and their individual perceptions of a climate of fear in the abusive supervision-fear- defensive silence relationship (with lower assertiveness and higher levels of climate-of-fear perceptions exacerbating the detrimental effects of fear resulting from abusive supervision), and (c) first-stage moderation effects of subordinates' assertiveness and climate-of-fear perceptions in a model linking fear to defensive silence and abusive supervision at a later time. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-742
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume101
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2016

Keywords

  • Abusive supervision
  • Assertiveness
  • Defensive silence
  • Fear
  • Workplace victimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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