Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Ph.D. in Business Administration

First Advisor

Walter Davis

Second Advisor

Jeremy Bowers Schoen

Third Advisor

Paul Johnson

Relational Format



The purpose of this dissertation is to determine the relevance of personality of both the supervisor and subordinate in the perception of abusive supervision. A report published in 2014 found that 27% of U.S. workers – comprising over 65 million people – have claimed to suffer from some form of abusive behavior perpetrated by their leaders, such as repeated intimidation, humiliation, and verbal abuse (Workplace Bullying Institute; Zoeby International, 2014). However, researchers have not determined whether the differences in the perceptions of abusive supervision is driven by the cognitive biases of the individual subordinates or the trait driven behaviors of the supervisors. A supervisor with an aggressive personality should enact aggressive behaviors that would be perceived as abusive by their individual subordinates as well as at the team-level. Subordinates with an aggressive personality are more likely to possess a hostile attribution bias whereby they perceive the actions of others to aggressive and hostile more often than prosocial individuals. Therefore, subordinates with an aggressive personality should more frequently perceive the actions of their supervisor to be abusive that would also increase the variation of abusive supervision perceptions among team members. It is important to pinpoint the antecedents of abusive supervision as it is a serious issue for organizations. Consequently, through a multi-level analysis of research conducted in four organizations, this research aims to determine if an analysis of subordinate personality, supervisor personality and group abusive supervision will help organizations better understand abusive supervision in the workplace.



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