The tone at the top: a trickle-down model of how manager anger relates to employee moral behaviour

Jakob Stollberger*, Maria José Bosch, Mireia Las Heras, Yasin Rofcanin, Pascale Daher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The question of how leaders’ expressions of anger influence employees have been the subject of considerable scholarly debate. So far, however, research on the consequences of angry leadership has predominantly focused on the effects of supervisor expressions of anger, neglecting the potential influence of higher-level managerial anger. In this study, we integrate the emotions as social information theory with the adapted elaboration likelihood model to examine how manager anger trickles down across organizational hierarchical levels (i.e., managers, supervisors, and employees) to affect employee moral behaviour. Results of a multi-source field study conducted in Chile demonstrate that perceptions of manager moral behaviour and supervisor servant leadership serially mediate a negative relationship between manager anger and employee moral behaviour. Furthermore, counter to our predictions, trait negative affectivity of supervisors did not moderate the trickle-down relation of manager anger on employee moral behaviour. Our research elucidates the process by which manager anger can “set the tone” in an organization and trickle down across hierarchical levels to predict the moral behaviour of employees.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-921
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis.


  • Anger
  • moral behaviour
  • multilevel structural equation modelling
  • servant leadership
  • trickle-down model


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