Help boss, I'm stressed! Measuring types of perceived supervisor support and how they relate to subordinates' workplace stress

Date of Completion

January 2010


Business Administration, Management|Psychology, Industrial|Sociology, Organizational




Much research has been devoted to the role social support has in the experience and management of workplace stress. However, this research is limited in the empirical development of a validated measure of the multiple types of social support a supervisor can provide to his/her subordinates. The present study aimed to develop a multifaceted measure of perceived supervisory support based on previous theoretical constructions. ^ Utilizing two different study samples, a 14-item scale was developed and validated measuring five types of supervisory support—emotional, appraisal, career, resource, and outside-of-work support. Exploratory analyses were run using data from a nation-wide internet survey sample while confirmatory analyses utilized data from a large state agency located in the Northeast U.S. ^ As predicted, the five-factor model demonstrated solid convergent validity with a global measure of supervisory support and divergent validity between its sub-facets. Structural equation modeling produced strong support for both a five-factor model and a second-order, five first-order factor model. Following two separate stress frameworks—Hobfoll's Conservation of Resource theory (1989) and Lazarus & Folkman's (1984) cognitive appraisal stress theory—this new measure's relationship with workplace stress was analyzed using both dominance and moderation analyses. ^ The dominance analysis provided further support to the discrimination between sub-facets and suggested that resource support was the most influential facet in the stress outcome variables assessed. Also, the dominance analysis demonstrated that the emotional support provided by a supervisor was the least influential type of social support. Minimal support was found in the moderation analyses. Implications for stress theory and organizational practice are discussed. ^