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Article

Beyond Mistreatment at the Relationship Level: Abusive Supervision and Illegitimate Tasks

1
Department of Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Hamburg, 20146 Hamburg, Germany
2
Institution for Statutory Accident Insurance and Prevention in the Health and Welfare Services, 22089 Hamburg, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2722; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17082722
Received: 31 March 2020 / Revised: 13 April 2020 / Accepted: 14 April 2020 / Published: 15 April 2020
According to the concept of abusive supervision, abusive supervisors display hostility towards their employees by humiliating and ridiculing them, giving them the silent treatment, and breaking promises. In this study, we argue that abusive supervision may not be limited to mistreatment at the relationship level and that the abuse is likely to extend to employees’ work tasks. Drawing upon the notion that supervisors play a key role in assigning work tasks to employees, we propose that abusive supervisors may display disrespect and devaluation towards their employees through assigning illegitimate (i.e., unnecessary and unreasonable) tasks. Survey data were obtained from 268 healthcare and social services workers. The results showed that abusive supervision was strongly and positively related to illegitimate tasks. Moreover, we found that the relationship between abusive supervision and unreasonable tasks was stronger for nonsupervisory employees at the lowest hierarchical level than for supervisory employees at higher hierarchical levels. The findings indicate that abusive supervision may go beyond relatively overt forms of hostility at the relationship level. Task-level stressors may be an important additional source of stress for employees with abusive supervisors that should be considered to fully understand the devastating effects of abusive supervision on employee functioning and well-being. View Full-Text
Keywords: abusive supervision; hostility; task-related supervisory behavior; illegitimate tasks; unnecessary tasks; unreasonable tasks; hierarchical level abusive supervision; hostility; task-related supervisory behavior; illegitimate tasks; unnecessary tasks; unreasonable tasks; hierarchical level
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MDPI and ACS Style

Stein, M.; Vincent-Höper, S.; Schümann, M.; Gregersen, S. Beyond Mistreatment at the Relationship Level: Abusive Supervision and Illegitimate Tasks. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 2722. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17082722

AMA Style

Stein M, Vincent-Höper S, Schümann M, Gregersen S. Beyond Mistreatment at the Relationship Level: Abusive Supervision and Illegitimate Tasks. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2020; 17(8):2722. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17082722

Chicago/Turabian Style

Stein, Maie, Sylvie Vincent-Höper, Marlies Schümann, and Sabine Gregersen. 2020. "Beyond Mistreatment at the Relationship Level: Abusive Supervision and Illegitimate Tasks" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 17, no. 8: 2722. https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph17082722

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