Can Two Wrongs Make a Right? The Buffering Effect of Retaliation on Subordinate Well-Being Following Abusive Supervision

Lindie H. Liang, Claudie Coulombe, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, Lisa M. Keeping

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

Subordinates who are abused by a supervisor tend to experience violated perceptions of interpersonal justice and deteriorated well-being. One way in which they may seek to cope with these consequences is by engaging in retaliatory behaviors intended to “get back” at their supervisor and even the score. Based on research suggesting that acts of retaliation can restore perceptions of justice, we propose a model whereby retaliation alleviates the effect of abusive supervision on subordinate well-being by restoring subordinates’ interpersonal justice perceptions. In two studies, using multiwave (Study 1) and timelagged (Study 2) designs, we found general support for our predictions, even when controlling for the alternative mechanism of victim identity and subordinates’ baseline well-being. These results suggest that retaliation reduces the harmful consequences of supervisory abuse on well-being not only in the short term but also in the long run. Theoretical and practical implications surrounding this increased understanding of the effectiveness of retaliation as a strategy for coping with the effects of abusive supervision over time are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Occupational Health Psychology
Volume27
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by a research grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grant No. 435-2018-0629) awarded to Lindie H. Liang, Douglas J. Brown, D. Lance Ferris, and Huiwen Lian, a research grant from the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Grant No. 430-2018-00053) awarded to Lindie H. Liang and Douglas J. Brown, and a National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71771133) awarded to Lindie H. Liang

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 American Psychological Association

Keywords

  • Abusive supervision
  • Justice
  • Retaliation
  • Well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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