Sa-SYM-1369-4 - The Trickle Down-Effect Of Destructive Leadership

Leadership and followership
1 hour
Prevention and intervention
The Tickle Down-Effect of Destructive Leadership                 
D. May 1,*, J. Wesche 1
1FU Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Main Abstract Content: Purpose: Field research indicates that destructive treatment from one’s supervisor may result in heightened destructive leadership (DL) towards one’s own subordinates (e.g., Mawritz et al. 2012). The present study examines this “trickle down-effect” in an experimental lab setting. Based on resource depletion research, we expect that a focal leader’s reduced self-regulatory resources (SRR) will exacerbate a) perceptions of DL from higher-level supervisors and b) the perpetration of DL towards the leader’s own subordinates.
Design/Methodology: We conducted a 2x2 factorial experiment with the factors “behaviour of higher-level supervisor” (destructive vs. neutral) and “level of SRR” (high vs. low). 58 participants first worked on a resource manipulation task. This was followed by a scenario task, which put participants into the role of a middle manager and manipulated the behaviour of the higher-level supervisor. Participants first rated the leadership style of the portrayed supervisor, then wrote work assignments for their (fictitious) followers. These assignments were later rated regarding their unfriendliness and hostility.
Results: Results show significant main effects for “behaviour of higher-level supervisor”: destructive behaviour led to higher perceptions of DL and more unfriendliness/hostility towards subordinates than neutral behaviour. However, no interaction effects with “level of SRR” were found.
Limitations: Scenario study, student sample.
Research/Practical Implications: The study supports the trickle down-assumption of DL, but did not find evidence for an exacerbation of effects through resource depletion.
Originality/Value: This is to our knowledge the first experimental replication of trickle-down effects of DL and the first to test for exacerbating effects of resource depletion.

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