Psychological Science 2017, 40(6) 1405-1411 DOI:     ISSN: 0412-1961 CN: 21-1139/TG

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implicit followership theory
positive followership prototype
positive followership traits
abusive supervision
CHU Zhen-Bing
CAO Yuan-Kun
Article by Chu,Z.B
Article by Cao,Y.K
Article by Peng,j

The Effect of the Congruence between Positive Followership Prototype and Positive Followership Traits on Abusive Supervision


Abstract Abusive supervision refers to a set of actions in which supervisors engage in the sustained display of hostile verbal and nonverbal behaviors, excluding physical contact. Due to it’s destructive effect on organizations and their members,researchers’ attention has more recently turn to understanding the predictors of abusive supervision so that organizations can devise ways to prevent it. Despite a growing set of studies has enhanced our understanding of the antecedents to abusive supervision, there are very few studies that examine whether leaders’ cognition might evoke abusive supervision. In recent years, the implicit followership theories, which are cognitive categories that reflect the conceptions that leaders have about the traits and behaviors of followers, draws a new perspective to explore the antecedents of abusive supervision.The integral elements of the cognitive categories are prototypes, which are abstract mental representations for followership. According to the valence of a prototype, followership prototypes can be classified into two dimensions: the positive followership prototype (PFP) and the negative followership prototype. PFP is composed of the assumed traits characterizing effective or good followers, such as enthusiasm,industriousness, and good citizenship. To date, the majority of scholars concentrated on leaders’ PFP and found that leaders’ PFP were associated with followers’ performance, job attitude, and leader empowering behavior. In this paper, we also plan to focus on leaders’ PFP. According to the implicit followership theories,PFP can be activated unconsciously and compared with a follower' explicit followership traits(PFT) in the process of the leader and follower interaction. And then the leader use different ways to deal with the follower in accordance with the result of the comparison. Drawing on such arguments, what we pursue is to explore the effect of the congruence/fit between a leader’s PFP and follower’s PFT (PFP-PFT congruence) on abusive supervision. Based on a sample of 194 leader-follower dyads, and using polynomial regression with the response surface analysis, it showed that: (1) The more agreement (i.e., higher congruence) between a leader’s PFP and follower’s PFT, the lower the abusive supervision; (2) In the cases of congruence, abusive supervision was lower when leader PFP and follower PFT were both high instead of being both low; (3)in the cases of incongruence, lower abusive supervision was found when a leader’ s PFP was lower than follower’s as compared with when a leader’s PFP was higher. This study, like virtually all studies, is not without its limitations. First, we explain the impact of PFP-PFT congruence on abusive supervision in detail, however, using a correlational model constrains our findings about causality. Thus, future research should examine the causal impact, for example, studies could experimentally induce PFT and assess the effect of PFP-PFT congruence on abusive supervision. Second, Although PFP was composed of three dimensions, we only explore the overall effect of PFP-PFT congruence on abusive supervision. Whether each dimension has the same effects? Dimensional analyses may deepen our understanding on such question. Third, the study probes only into the direct effect of PFP-PFT congruence on abusive supervision, whereas the mechanism is not discussed. We suggest the mediating role of leader-member exchange can be examined in future studies.

Keywords implicit followership theory   positive followership prototype   positive followership traits   abusive supervision  
Received 2017-02-03 Revised 2017-08-04 Online: 2017-11-20 
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