Employee socio-economic dependency as an antecedent of abusive supervision in Russian business organisations
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to identify previously unexamined predictors of abusive supervision
(AS) that stem from socio-economic dependency of employees upon their direct supervisors.
Design/methodology/approach – Using social exchange theory (SET) as framework, the author conducted
empirical analysis that was based on survey data collected among 1,100 Russian white-collar private sector
Findings – The results reveal the importance of organisation-level managerial practices which create
employees’ socio-economic dependency in predicting abusive supervision (AS). Significant positive predictions
of AS in Russian business organisations are “accidental” and “zero-option” employment; getting a job through
informal social contacts (“blat”); and dependence of wage upon personal relations with a supervisor. In turn,
performance-based payment is the strongest factor that hinders AS. Taken together, these factors support one
of the key assumptions of SET that control over valued resources creates imbalanced power relations, thus
providing the fertile ground to the abuse of power.
Practical implications – Findings show that a transparent, performance-based system of payments,
contributes to preventing AS by immediate supervisors. The author also provides arguments for reducing the
economic and administrative power of line managers.
Originality/value – This study adds to the understanding of the role of managerial practices, which create
socio-economic dependency of employees from managers, in predicting AS in organisations.