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Why and when is frequent supervisory negative feedback undesirable? The role of trust in supervisor and attribution of supervisor motives

Wenjing Guo (Antai College of Economics and Management, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China)
Yuan Jiang (China Europe International Business School, Shanghai, China)
Wei Zhang (School of Public Administration, Sichuan University, Chengdu, China)
Haizhen Wang (School of Business, Xi’an International Studies University, Xi’an, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 26 April 2024

Issue publication date: 19 June 2024

199

Abstract

Purpose

Research on the effects of feedback frequency has reported mixed findings. To tackle this problem, the current study focuses on specific feedback signs (i.e. negative feedback). By integrating the face management theory and attribution theory, this study examined the mediating effect of trust in supervisors and the moderating effect of employee-attributed performance promotion motives for negative feedback.

Design/methodology/approach

A field study with 176 participants and two supplemental experiments with 143 and 100 participants, respectively, were conducted to test the theoretical model.

Findings

Results revealed that the frequency of supervisory negative feedback negatively influenced employees’ trust in supervisors, which in turn influenced employees’ perceptions of feedback utility and learning performance. These indirect effects can be alleviated when employees have high degrees of performance promotion attribution for supervisor motives.

Originality/value

This research extends feedback research by integrating feedback frequency with a specific sign of feedback and revealing a moderated mediation effect of the negative feedback frequency.

Keywords

Citation

Guo, W., Jiang, Y., Zhang, W. and Wang, H. (2024), "Why and when is frequent supervisory negative feedback undesirable? The role of trust in supervisor and attribution of supervisor motives", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 45 No. 5, pp. 737-753. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-05-2023-0227

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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