Abusive Supervision and Supervisor-Directed Deviance: A Social Network Approach

Samuel Hanig, Seong W. Yang, Lindie H. Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Supervisor-directed deviance is a well-established consequence of abusive supervision. However, prior accounts of the abuse–deviance relationship have overlooked the role played by power embedded in subordinates’ informal social context. To address this gap, we draw on power-dependence theory and use a social network approach to explain the link between abusive supervision and supervisor-directed deviance. In doing so, we propose a three-way interaction in which the abuse–deviance relationship is impacted by two components of informal power: subordinate social network centrality and subordinate influence. In particular, we propose that the relationship will be the strongest when subordinates have high betweenness centrality and high influence. We gathered full social network data, as well as self-report surveys from 272 primary school teachers and government contract workers in Northern China. Our results provide support for the notion that supervisor-directed deviance emerges most strongly as a consequence of abusive supervision for employees who wield informal power in their organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)401-414
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Authors 2021.


  • abusive supervision
  • deviance
  • power
  • social networks

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


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