Resisting Delegation: the Influence of Incivility and Developmental Tasks on Commitment to the Supervisor and Delegation Resistance

Hee Man Park, Kameron M. Carter, Jean M. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Despite the prevailing positive view of leader delegation, subordinates are sometimes reluctant to fulfill a delegation request. We propose that direct reports’ acceptance of or resistance to a delegated task depends on how the delegation is performed as well as the nature of the delegated task. We apply social exchange theory in proposing that the delegation of non-developmental and undesirable tasks and supervisor incivility during delegation increase subordinate resistance to delegation due to weak commitment to a supervisor. Two experiments and one critical incident study found overall support for our proposed model. The findings suggest that the “what” and “how” of delegation, rather than simply the amount of work delegated, are important factors that influence subordinates’ commitment to their supervisors and resistance to delegation. In addition, we find that incivility does sometimes occur during delegation. However, being delegated to in an uncivil manner does not fully undermine the positive influence of being delegated a desirable and developmental task. This research contributes to the delegation and leadership literatures by challenging the assumption of subordinate compliance to delegation and positing that delegation may sometimes elicit counterproductive responses from subordinates due to poor delegation execution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1245-1266
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Business and Psychology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Applied Psychology
  • General Psychology

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