Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Business Administration

First Advisor

Kraimer, Maria

First Committee Member

Brown, Kenneth

Second Committee Member

Colbert, Amy

Third Committee Member

Crawford, Eean

Fourth Committee Member

Seibert, Scott


Stressful workplace relationships, such as abusive supervision, social undermining, and victimization, are rampant in the workplace, presenting serious challenges to individuals and organizations. This research attempts to shed new light on factors that lead to an individual experiencing a stressful relationship at work. Using a mixed methods approach, I assess a number of relationship dynamics by evaluating these relationships both from the perspective of individuals who may be the target of stressful relationship behaviors, as well as individuals who may be actors driving the stressful relationship. I first use a qualitative approach in Study 1 to get a broad sense of these relationships, including how these relationships come about, traits and behaviors of each party, coping strategies, and various outcomes. Based on this study's conclusions, and in concert with existing theories and research, I then conduct a quantitative study to specifically look at a number of factors that lead to a stressful relationship. Focusing on supervisor-subordinate dyads, Study 2 examines how supervisor behaviors are related to perceptions of subordinate arrogance, and how specific supervisor behaviors impact subordinates on both personal and professional levels. This study will also examine whether subordinate self-determination mediates the relationship between supervisor behaviors and subordinate outcomes. This research addresses a number of gaps in the literature, including: a) how perceptions of another individual motivate stress-causing behaviors, b) how perceived behaviors of one individual contribute to another (target) individual experiencing a stressful work relationship, and c) the role target self-determination plays in the relationship between actor behaviors and subordinate outcomes.


work relationships, work stress


vii, 140 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 113-128).


Copyright 2014 Abigail J. Pierotti