Why employees endorse abusive leaders: the role of trust

Samian, Corina D. Riantoputra, Andreas Budihardjo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

All mentoring and feedback-seeking processes depend on the leader–subordinate relationship that emphasizes the role of trust. This understanding is extended in the present study, which investigates the moderating role of trust in the association between abusive supervision and leader endorsement. Using relational leadership and social exchange theory, this paper contends that cognitive and affective trusts form the boundary condition that potentially determines the relationship between abusive supervision and leader endorsement. This study utilized a time-lagged data collection and managed to collect data from 165 employees in a government-owned company in Indonesia. The analysis found that (1) abusive supervision was negatively associated with leader endorsement; (2) cognitive trust increased the negative association of abusive supervision and leader endorsement, and (3) affective trust reduced the negative association of abusive supervision and leader endorsement. The findings thus advance the current scholarly understanding of the leader-follower relationship by demonstrating that trust is the determinant of the extent to which employees endorse their leaders, even in situations when the leaders are abusive. Practical implications, such as supervisory training strategies to build affective trust and approaches to encourage ethical climates, are discussed as leadership development strategies to strengthen positive leader-follower relationships.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHuman Resource Development International
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • Abusive supervision
  • leader development
  • leadership
  • social exchange theory
  • trust

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