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Exploring job crafting as a response to abusive supervision

Huda Masood (York University, Toronto, Canada)
Len Karakowsky (York University, Toronto, Canada)
Mark Podolsky (York University, Toronto, Canada)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 18 March 2021

Issue publication date: 4 May 2021




The purpose of this qualitative exploratory study was to investigate the capacity of job crafting to serve as a viable response to abusive supervision. Although considerable literature has emerged on employee reactions to abusive supervision, the role of job crafting as a coping mechanism has received relatively little attention.


Using qualitative exploration, we conducted semi-structured interviews to examine how individuals engage in job crafting as a means to respond to or cope with abusive supervision. Critical Incident Interview Technique (CIIT) was used to obtain in-depth details of this topic. We analyzed the interview-based data using the thematic analysis (TA) technique. We also integrated topic modeling to cluster the identified categories of job crafting behaviors within our TA. The cultural context of our findings was further analyzed using interpretive phenological analysis (IPA).


The results of our thematic analysis led to four recurring themes in the interview-data: (1) Job crafting as a viable coping response to abusive supervision; (2) The type of coping relates to the type of crafting: Approach and Avoidance; (3) The role of perceived control; (4) Emotions play a role in the type of crafting employed. Findings from our IPA generated the following super-ordinate themes. (1) Job crafting fluidity, (2) effectiveness of job crafting, (3) resilience and (4) cultural dynamics.

Research limitations/implications

This research reveals the ways in which individuals may turn to job crafting behaviors as a means to cope following instances of abusive supervision. Given the qualitative exploration of our research approach, we identify generalizability to be an issue.

Practical implications

Job crafting is a proactive phenomenon that equips employees with coping abilities in the workplace. While Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) suggested that job crafting behaviors tend to be hidden from management, there may be merit in organizations explicitly acknowledging the benefits of allowing employees to be active agents in their work, capable of using multiple domains of job crafting to improve their personal and professional lives (Petrou et al., 2017).


The current research reveals the ways in which individuals may turn to job crafting behaviors as a means to cope, following instances of abusive supervision. We further fine-grained our analysis to explicate employee job crafting behaviors in response to abusive supervision within a cross-cultural domain.



Masood, H., Karakowsky, L. and Podolsky, M. (2021), "Exploring job crafting as a response to abusive supervision", Career Development International, Vol. 26 No. 2, pp. 174-200.



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