This week’s tidbits look at the boss-employee relationship.

Mirroring the boss: Ethical leadership and salesperson performance
Although a number of studies have demonstrated that perceived ethical leadership engenders beneficial follower outcomes, there is a dearth of research on ethical leadership in the sales context. This is surprising given that salespersons constantly face ethical challenges in their work environment and ethical leadership could provide them with appropriate guidelines for navigating such challenges successfully.

Focusing on the salesperson’s perspective and responding to calls for investigating underlying processes responsible for the effects of ethical leadership, this study proposes that sales managers’ ethical leadership influences salespersons’ emulation intentions—i.e., their intentions to model or imitate the manager’s ethical behaviour—which, in turn, influences both behaviour and outcome performance.

In addition, salespersons’ perceptions of the manager’s competence and gratitude toward the manager are examined as moderating mechanisms on the relationship between ethical leadership and salespersons’ emulation. Finally, three aspects of the ethical climate prevailing in the organisation—ethical responsibility, peers’ unethical behaviour, and unethical sales practices—are included as control variables.

The proposed relationships are tested by using data from 290 business-to-business salespeople. Based on the findings, implications are offered for theory and practice.

Vishag Badrinarayanan, Indu Ramachandran and Sreedhar Madhavaram. 2019. Mirroring the Boss: Ethical Leadership, Emulation Intentions, and Salesperson Performance.
Journal of Business Ethics, 159(3), 897–912.


Employees speak up more under humble leaders
Research investigating the underlying mechanisms and boundary conditions under which leader humility influences employee voice remains underdeveloped. Drawing from approach–inhibition theory of power and leader humility literature, the authors developed a moderated-mediation model in which personal sense of power (i.e., employees’ ability to influence other individuals such as their leader) was theorised as a unique mechanism underlining why employees feel motivated to speak up under the supervision of humble leaders.

Additionally, the cultural value of power distance was proposed to be a relevant boundary condition to influence such relationship. The authors tested the model using time-lagged supervisor–subordinate matched data. Results of mixed models analyses provided support for the hypotheses confirming that employees’ personal sense of power mediates the relationship between leader humility and employee voice, and such relationship was found to be stronger when employees’ power distance was lower rather than higher.

Xiaoshuang Lin, Zhen Xiong Chen, Herman H. M. Tse, Wu Wei & Chao Ma. 2019. Why and When Employees Like to Speak up More Under Humble Leaders? The Roles of Personal Sense of Power and Power Distance.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 937–950.


Are “bad” employees happier under bad bosses?
Psychopathy is typically seen as a trait that is undesirable in any context, including the workplace. But several authors have suggested that people high in psychopathy might possess resources that preserve their ability to perform well in stressful contexts. The authors consider the possibility that primary psychopathy is adaptive—for the employee, if not for the organisation—under conditions of abusive supervision.

In particular, the authors draw from the multimotive model of interpersonal threat (Smart Richman and Leary in Psychol Rev 116:365–383, 2009) and the theory of purposeful work behaviour (Barrick et al. in Acad Manag Rev 38:132–153, 2013) to argue that high primary psychopathy individuals possess characteristics that enable them to experience higher levels of well-being and lower levels of anger than their peers under abusive supervisors.

Based on a scenario study and a time-lagged field study, the authors found support for a model in which abusive supervision moderates the relationships between primary psychopathy and positive work-related outcomes (positive affect and engagement), such that these relationships are positive under conditions of abusive supervision and either diminished or negative under conditions of low abusive supervision.

Abusive supervision also affected the relationship between primary psychopathy and anger in the field study such that high primary psychopathy individuals were less angry under more abusive supervisors. Thus, there appears to be some credence to the notion of a “psychopathic advantage” in that primary psychopaths do have access to greater psychological resources than their peers under abusive supervision. However, these findings also suggest that abusive supervisors may empower employees with characteristics that hold strong potential to damage the organisation and its stakeholders.

Charlice Hurst, Lauren Simon, Yongsuhk Jung & Dante Pirouz. 2019. Are “Bad” Employees Happier Under Bad Bosses? Differing Effects of Abusive Supervision on Low and High Primary Psychopathy Employees.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 1149–1164.


Abusive supervision and employee deviance
In order to address the influence of unethical leader behaviours in the form of abusive supervision on subordinates’ retaliatory responses, the authors meta-analytically examined the impact of abusive supervision on subordinate deviance, inclusive of the role of justice and power distance.

Specifically, the authors investigated the mediating role of supervisory- and organisationally focused justice and the moderating role of power distance as one model explaining why and when abusive supervision is related to subordinate deviance toward supervisors and organisations. With 79 independent sample studies (N = 22,021), the authors found that abusive supervision was more strongly related to supervisory-focused justice, compared to organisationally focused justice perceptions, and both types of justice perceptions were related to target-similar deviance (deviance toward the supervisor and organisation, respectively).

Finally, the results showed that the negative implications of abusive supervision were stronger in lower power distance cultures compared to higher power distance cultures.

Haesang Park, Jenny M. Hoobler, Junfeng Wu, Robert C. Liden, Jia Hu & Morgan S. Wilson. 2019. Abusive Supervision and Employee Deviance: A Multifoci Justice Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 1113–113.


CSR and the employer brand process
Firms are increasingly drawing on corporate social responsibility (CSR) in their employer branding to improve attractiveness and engage current and potential employees, and to ensure consistency in employee brand behaviours. However, there is a dearth of literature synthesising CSR and employer branding research to understand employee engagement with CSR-firms from a branding perspective.

In this article, the authors carried out an integrative literature review of CSR and employer branding literatures. Informed by signaling theory, the authors develop a conceptual model of the CSR employer branding process as a cohesive view from the potential and current employee perspective.

This review highlights the need for firms to achieve CSR consistency in terms of (a) embeddedness of CSR values, and (b) levels of internal CSR. These two factors frame a typology that enable managers to better execute their CSR employer brand identity to achieve favourable results, such as a high-quality talent pool and positive affective, cognitive and behavioural employee outcomes.

Joan Carlini, Debra Grace, Cassandra France & Joseph Lo Iacono. 2019. The corporate social responsibility (CSR) employer brand process: integrative review and comprehensive model.
Journal of Marketing Management , 35, 182-205.


Core self-evaluations influence employees’ deviant reactions to abusive supervision
Viewing workplace deviance within a victim precipitation framework, the authors explore how abusive supervisors target subordinates low in core self-evaluations (CSE) to explain when such employees respond by engaging in workplace deviance. The authors theorise that employees who are lower in CSE receive more abusive supervision, which generates subsequent harmful reactions toward supervisors, peers, and the organisation.

This occurs primarily when employees lack sufficient cognitive resources in dealing with supervisor abuse. The authors test, replicate, and extend the theoretical model in three empirical studies. Results demonstrate that lower employee CSE drew more abusive supervision and led low-CSE employees to exhibit workplace deviance. This abusive supervision mediation effect was stronger for employees with comparatively lower cognitive ability levels.

The findings are discussed with regard to theoretical and ethical issues in confronting employee abuse.

Donald H. Kluemper, Kevin W. Mossholder, Dan Ispas, Mark N. Bing, Dragos Iliescu & Alexandra Ilie. 2019. When Core Self-Evaluations Influence Employees’ Deviant Reactions to Abusive Supervision: The Moderating Role of Cognitive Ability.
Journal of Business Ethics, 159(2), 435–453.


Linking paternalistic leadership to organisational commitment
Based on social cognitive theory, the authors theorise that collective efficacy plays a mediating role in the relationship between paternalistic leadership and organisational commitment and that this mediating role depends on team cohesion.

The empirical results from a study of 238 employees from 52 teams at manufacturing companies show that benevolent leadership and moral leadership, both components of paternalistic leadership, are positively related to organisational commitment and further that collective efficacy mediates the moral leadership–organisational commitment relationship. The authors did not find a relationship between authoritarian leadership and organisational commitment.

Besides, it was found that team cohesion negatively moderates the relationship between moral leadership and collective efficacy and positively moderates the relationship between collective efficacy and organisational commitment. Explanations and directions for future research are discussed.

Ying Chen, Xiaohu Zhou & Kim Klyver. 2019. Collective Efficacy: Linking Paternalistic Leadership to Organizational Commitment.
Journal of Business Ethics, 159(2), 587–603.