Out of Control: A Self-Control Perspective on the Link Between Surface Acting and Abusive Supervision Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, we examined how leaders' customer interactions influence their tendency to abuse their followers. Specifically, we drew from ego-depletion theory to suggest that surface acting during customer interactions depletes leaders of their self-control resources, resulting in elevated levels of abusive supervision. Furthermore, we hypothesized that the effect of surface acting on abusive supervision is moderated by leaders' trait self-control, such that leaders with high trait self-control will be less affected by the depleting effects of surface acting than their peers. Results from a multiwave, multisource leader-follower dyad study in the service and sales industries provided support for our hypotheses. This research contributes to several literatures, particularly to an emerging area of study--the antecedents of leaders' abusive behaviors.

altmetric score

  • 18

author list (cited authors)

  • Yam, K. C., Fehr, R., Keng-Highberger, F. T., Klotz, A. C., & Reynolds, S. J.

citation count

  • 82

publication date

  • February 2016