Consequences of downward envy: A model of self-esteem threat, abusive supervision, and supervisory leader self-improvement

Lingtao Yu, Michelle K Duffy, Bennett J. Tepper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations


We invoke theory and research on the social functional view of envy to propose a novel theoretical framework of supervisory leader envy of direct reports. Findings from two multi-source, multi-wave studies of supervisor–subordinate dyads provide support for the theses that (1) downward envy of subordinates threatens supervisors’ self-esteem and triggers adaptive strategies in the form of abusive supervision and supervisory self-improvement; and (2) supervisors are more likely to respond to downward envy induced self-esteem threat with abuse when they perceive envied subordinates to be cold and competent and they are more likely to respond with self-improvement when they perceive envied subordinates to be warm and competent.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2296-2318
Number of pages23
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2018


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