Abstract

Abusive supervision is a young but growing field of inquiry (Tepper 2007). Small and entrepreneurial businesses offer a unique context for studying this phenomenon. First, unlike CEOs of larger corporations, owner-founders often find themselves in management roles for which they have received little grooming or preparation. Without the years of training and mentoring that managers often receive as they progress in their levels of authority and responsibility, entrepreneurs may be more susceptible to an authoritarian, controlling leadership style to produce the desired results. Second, when abusive behavior does occur, these firms lack the oversight of a sophisticated corporate administrative or governance entity, and so the entrepreneur could run rampant over his or her underlings in an effort to “push” firm performance.

In this paper we look at how abusive supervision in particular industry classifications (e.g. service, retail, manufacturing, high tech) impacts turnover intentions and absenteeism of employees, sales growth and profitability. We predict that firms in which abusive supervisory behaviors occur frequently will experience higher levels of voluntary employee turnover and lower levels of firm performance.

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