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When Will the Trickle-Down Effect of Abusive Supervision Be Alleviated? The Moderating Roles of Power Distance and Traditional Cultures


Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


The trickle-down model of abusive supervision points out that the negative effect of abusive supervisory behaviors will be imitated by the subordinates and transmits along the organizational hierarchy. An important question arises herein as when and how this negative effect will be stopped or alleviated. In this study, we examine the positive relationship between abusive supervisory behavior and abusive subordinate behavior and the negative relationship between subordinates’ abusive behavior and service performance in teams from hospitality industry. Moreover, we posit that two team-level cultural values (power distance and traditional values) moderate the trickle-down effect of abusive supervision. Data were obtained from 266 supervisor–subordinate dyads in the hotel industry in China. The hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) results revealed that (1) abusive supervision positively predicts abusive subordinate behavior, (2) abusive subordinate behavior negatively predicts service performance, and (3) both traditional and power distance values mitigate the negative effects of abusive supervision in the supervisor–subordinate relationship. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.