This study represents an important step towards understanding why supervisors behave abusively towards their subordinates. Building on the conservation of resources theory, this study investigates the impact of abusive supervision on counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) from a stress perspective. Furthermore, job demands play a significant moderating effect, and emotional exhaustion has a mediating effect on the relationship between abusive supervision and CWBs. A time-lagged design was utilized to collect the data and a total of 350 supervisors-subordinates’ dyads are collected from Chinese manufacturing firms. The findings indicate that subordinates’ emotional exhaustion mediates the relationship between abusive supervision and CWBs only when subordinates are involved in a high frequency of job demands. Additionally, emotional exhaustion and abusive supervision were significantly moderated by job demands. However, the extant literature has provided that abusive supervision has detrimental effects on employees work behavior. The findings of this study provide new empirical and theoretical insights into the stress perspectives. Finally, implications for managers and related theories are discussed, along with the boundaries and future opportunities of this study.
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