Their Pain, Our Pleasure: How and When Peer Abusive Supervision Leads to Third Parties’ Schadenfreude and Work Engagement

Abstract

Abusive supervision negatively affects its direct victims. However, recent studies have begun to explore how abusive supervision affects third parties (peer abusive supervision). We use the emotion-based process model of schadenfreude as a basis to suggest that third parties will experience schadenfreude and increase their work engagement as a response to peer abusive supervision (PAS). Furthermore, we suggest that the context of competitive goal interdependence facilitates the indirect relationship between PAS and third parties’ work engagement on schadenfreude. We use a mixed-method approach to test our hypotheses. Data from an experimental study conducted by facial expression analysis technology (Study 1, a 2 × 2 design, N = 104) and a multi‐wave field study (Study 2, N = 229) generally support our hypotheses. Overall, our study extends PAS literature and meaningfully informs practitioners who aim to promote ethical workplace environments.

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Funding

This study was funded by grants from National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No.71672139) and (Grant No.71932007), and was sponsored by Humanities and Social Science Talent Plan of Shaanxi University.

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Qiao, Y., Zhang, Z. & Jia, M. Their Pain, Our Pleasure: How and When Peer Abusive Supervision Leads to Third Parties’ Schadenfreude and Work Engagement. J Bus Ethics 169, 695–711 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04315-4

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Keywords

  • Abusive supervision
  • Peer abusive supervision
  • Schadenfreude
  • Goal interdependence
  • Work engagement