Abusive Supervision: A Systematic Comparison Between Military and Civilian Leadership Perceptions

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Thompson, Madison Eriann
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Middle Tennessee State University
The purpose of this study was to examine perceptions of abusive supervision. Specifically, this study aimed to investigate how perceptions of abusive supervision differ between individuals who have previously been enlisted or are currently enlisted in the military and individuals who have only been employed in civilian workplace settings. Using an experimental design, participants with military and non-military experience were randomly assigned to one of two supervisor conditions (abusive or non-abusive). Data were collected using a survey that was published on Amazon Mechanical Turk and various Facebook groups, which included several questionnaires regarding personal outcomes (intent to leave, satisfaction with supervision style, and affective organizational commitment) and perceptions of supervisor behaviors based on a vignette (behaviors of abuse, consideration, and initiating structure). A sample of 438 participants who were at least 25 years of age, proficient at reading and speaking English, currently working a full-time job in the United States and had at least 5 years of either civilian work experience with no military service experience (civilian only survey), or at least 5 years of military service experience (military survey) were recruited and used for the study. Results showed that the participants were more likely to rate their personal outcomes lower if they rated the supervisor in the scenario as abusive. Other findings, limitations, and future research suggestions are also discussed.
Leadership, Military, Psychology, Organizational behavior