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Psychological entitlement and abusive supervision: Political skill as a self-regulatory mechanism

Whitman, Marilyn V.; Halbesleben, Jonathon R. B.; Shanine, Kristen K.

doi: 10.1097/HMR.0b013e3182678fe7
Features

Background: Abusive supervision in the workplace is steadily increasing. Such behavior has been linked to a host of negative individual and organizational consequences. In a health care environment particularly, such behavior can have detrimental effects.

Purposes: This study advances self-regulation theory by framing the entitlement–abusive supervision relationship in terms of a motive to obtain resources via a behavior that is not socially sanctioned. Furthermore, we argue that political skill serves as a self-regulating mechanism that reduces the motivation to secure personal resources through abusive behavior.

Methodology/Approach: Our hypotheses were tested using a sample of nurses and their supervisors who were asked to complete a survey. A final sample of 132 supervisor–subordinate dyads was obtained.

Findings: Analysis suggests that supervisors high in psychological entitlement are more likely to be perceived by their subordinates as abusive. Political skill, however, moderated this relationship by serving as a regulatory mechanism that thwarts entitled supervisors from engaging in abusive behaviors.

Practice Implications: Our findings underscore the common concern that entitlement and abuse can be harmful for organizations. Entitled supervisors who are high in political skill may recognize that engaging in less aggressive influence behaviors may be more effective in achieving self-serving motives. Consequently, health care organizations need to be proactive in order to reduce entitlement and prevent abusive behaviors in the workplace.

Marilyn V. Whitman, PhD, is Assistant Professor, University of Alabama. E-mail: mwhitman@cba.ua.edu.

Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben, PhD, is Associate Professor, University of Alabama.

Kristen K. Shanine, MBA, is Doctoral Candidate, University of Alabama.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationship with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins