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About to Burst: How State Self-Regulation Affects the Enactment of Bullying Behaviors


Past research has demonstrated that employees’ perceptions of abusive supervision are positively associated with the enactment of bullying behaviors. However, an investigation of the factors influencing employees’ decision to bully others at work has yet to be completed. In this study, we propose that the relationship between perceptions of abusive supervision and the enactment of bullying behaviors is mediated by state self-regulation, and that active coping moderates the relationship between state self-regulation and bullying. Further, we analyze how the situational context (e.g., positive or negative) affects employees’ levels of self-regulatory resource depletion and ultimately, the extent to which they engage in bullying behaviors. A moderated mediation analysis using time-separated data (N = 136) provided support for our hypotheses, suggesting that employees’ state self-regulation helps explain why abusive supervision is associated with bullying and that active coping helps to reduce bullying behaviors. Further, the results suggest that negative environments are associated with more bullying. Contributions, practical implications, and future research directions are discussed.

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Correspondence to Charn P. McAllister.

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McAllister, C.P., Perrewé, P.L. About to Burst: How State Self-Regulation Affects the Enactment of Bullying Behaviors. J Bus Ethics 153, 877–888 (2018).

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  • Bullying
  • Abusive supervision
  • Self-regulation
  • Coping