Do Employees Cope Effectively With Abusive Supervision at Work? An Exploratory Study

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Abusive supervision is a major organizational stressor yet little is known about how employees cope with such stress. The purpose of the present study was twofold: (a) to develop a new scale assessing how employees cope with abusive supervision, and (b) to investigate the effectiveness of coping with abusive supervision in terms of negative and positive affective outcomes. The study was conducted in two parts: Two samples of 108 and 101 student employees completed the initial versions of the new coping with abusive supervision scale; and another sample of 225 employees completed the final, 25-item coping scale, which consisted of five subscales: ingratiation, direct communication, avoidance of contact, support-seeking, and reframing. Additional measures used were abusive supervision, influence tactics scale, abuse-related negative and positive affect scales, and social desirability. The internal and test-retest reliability levels of the subscales of the newly developed questionnaire were high and it was validated by its subscales associations with influence tactics subscales. High levels of abusive supervision were related to coping strategies of avoiding contact, support seeking, ingratiation, and reframing. The first two strategies were also related positively to negative affect and mediated the effects of abusive supervision on affect. The results suggest that most coping strategies are invoked in response to abusive supervision. They are, however, found to be mostly ineffective in regard to their relationship with employees' affective reactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-23
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Stress Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2011


  • Abusive supervision
  • Coping
  • Negative affect
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology


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