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Abusive supervision, public service motivation, and employee deviance: The moderating role of employment sector

Rick Vogel (Department of Socioeconomics, University of Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany)
Fabian Homberg (Department of Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour, Bournemouth University, Bournemouth, UK)
Alena Gericke (Department of Political Science, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, USA)

Evidence-based HRM

ISSN: 2049-3983

Article publication date: 5 December 2016



The purpose of this paper is to examine abusive supervision and public service motivation (PSM) as antecedents of deviant workplace behaviours.


The study was conducted in a cross-sectional research design with survey data from 150 employees in the public, private, and non-profit sector in Germany and the USA.


Abusive supervision is positively associated with employee deviance, whereas PSM is negatively related to deviant behaviours. The employment sector moderates the negative relationship between PSM and employee deviance such that this relationship is stronger in the public and non-profit sector.

Research limitations/implications

Limitations arise from the convenience sampling approach and the cross-sectional nature of the data set.

Practical implications

Human resource managers should consider behavioural integrity in the attraction, selection, and training of both supervisors and subordinates. Private organisations can address the needs of strongly public service motivated employees by integrating associated goals and values into organisational missions and policies.


This is the first study to introduce PSM into research on employee deviance. It shows that a pro-social motivation can drive anti-social behaviours when employees with high levels of PSM are members of profit-seeking organisations.



Vogel, R., Homberg, F. and Gericke, A. (2016), "Abusive supervision, public service motivation, and employee deviance: The moderating role of employment sector", Evidence-based HRM, Vol. 4 No. 3, pp. 214-231.



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