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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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
Early online date7 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology on 7 Aug 2020, available online at:


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


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