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The Effects of Leadership Behavior on Workplace Harassment, Employee Outcomes, and Organizational Effectiveness in Small Businesses Open Access

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Although scholars have long examined antecedents affecting the incidence of workplace harassment, little is known about the effects of immediate managers' leadership behavior on the incidence of workplace harassment. This is unfortunate because supervisors have a strong influence on their employees' behaviors due to their physical and psychological proximity to employees and their ability to administer rewards and punishments as well as performance ratings. Drawing from the leadership, social learning, and harassment theories and empirical evidence, this study examine how immediate managers differentially affect (i.e., promote or prevent) the incidence of workplace harassment via four types of leadership − transformational, transactional, laissez-faire, and destructive leadership in the context of small businesses. Further, this relationship is hypothesized to be mediated by individual employees' perceptions regarding the climate of respect for people in the organization. Data collected from 239 employee-coworker dyads provided support for the hypothesized relationships. The findings highlight supervisors' leadership behavior is an important antecedent of workplace harassment and a climate of respect provides a strategic focus that enables organizations to effectively guide employee behaviors to create a working environment free from harassment. Therefore, organizations should be aware of the salience of supervisors as a role model of setting the tone for interpersonal treatment among employees as well as working environment. This, in turn, will relate to positive employee attitudes and behaviors, reducing the voluntary turnover rates of small businesses.

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