How Fear of External Threats Plays Roles: An Examination of Supervisors' Trait Anger, Abusive Supervision, Subordinate Burnout and CCB.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 12 14; 19(24)IJ
In times of uncertainty, such as during COVID-19, many organizations experience profit decline, and employees develop a fear of external threats, such as organizational layoffs. However, most of the literature focuses on how people's fear influences their well-being. Less is known about how employees' fear of external threats influences their workplace behaviors. The current study proposes that supervisors' fear of external threats stimulates those who are high in trait anger to behave in a more abusive way. Simultaneously, subordinates' fear of external threats would strengthen the positive relationship between abusive supervision and their burnout and compulsory citizenship behaviors (CCB), as fear of external threats constrains their response options to abusive supervision. We tested the hypotheses with a multiwave and multisource survey study (N = 322 dyads) in China, and the results showed that supervisors' fear of external threats strengthened the positive effect of trait anger on abusive supervision. Subordinates' fear of external threats strengthens the positive relationships of abusive supervision with CCB and the mediating effect of abusive supervision in the relationship of supervisors' trait anger with subordinates' CCB. Our study enriches people's understanding of how supervisors' and subordinates' fear of external threats may play roles in workplace behaviors.