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Supervisor incivility, ruminations and insubordination: catalytic effects of supervisor task conflict

Dirk De Clercq (Goodman School of Business, Brock University, St. Catharines, Canada)
Muhammad Umer Azeem (Department of Organization, Management and Human Resources, ESSCA School of Management, Lyon, France)
Inam Ul Haq (Research Center, Léonard de Vinci Pôle Universitaire, Paris La Défense, France)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 6 June 2023

Issue publication date: 7 November 2023




This study aims to investigate the relationship between employees' exposure to supervisor incivility and their engagement in insubordinate behavior, by detailing a mediating role of ruminations about interpersonal offenses and a moderating role of supervisor task conflict.


The research hypotheses were assessed with three rounds of data, obtained from employees and their peers, working for firms in various industries.


An important reason that employees' sense that their supervisor treats them disrespectfully escalates into defiance of supervisor authority is that the employees cannot stop thinking about how they have been wronged. The mediating role of such ruminations is particularly prominent when employees' viewpoints clash with those of their supervisor.

Practical implications

A critical danger exists for employees who are annoyed with a rude supervisor: They ponder their negative treatment, which prompts them to disobey, a response that likely diminishes the chances that supervisors might change their behaviors. This detrimental process is particularly salient when employee–supervisor interactions are marked by unpleasant task-related fights.


This study unpacks an unexplored link between supervisor incivility and supervisor-directed insubordination by explicating the pertinent roles of two critical factors (rumination and task conflict) in this link.



De Clercq, D., Azeem, M.U. and Haq, I.U. (2023), "Supervisor incivility, ruminations and insubordination: catalytic effects of supervisor task conflict", Management Decision, Vol. 61 No. 11, pp. 3385-3407.



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