Research Briefs

March 23, 2012

Your abusive boss may not be good for your marriage

Having an abusive boss not only causes problems at work but can lead to strained relationships at home, according to a Baylor University study published online in the journal, Personnel Psychology. The study found that stress and tension caused by an abusive boss have an impact on the employee's partner, which affects the marital relationship and subsequently the employee's entire family.

The study also found that more children at home meant greater family satisfaction for the employee, and the longer the partner's relationship, the less impact the abusive boss had on the family.

"These findings have important implications for organizations and their managers," said Dr. Dawn Carlson, BBA '89, MBA '91, study author, professor of management and H. R. Gibson Chair of Organizational Development at Baylor's Hankamer School of Business. "The evidence highlights the need for organizations to send an unequivocal message to those in supervisory positions that these hostile and harmful behaviors will not be tolerated."

A supervisor's abuse may include tantrums, rudeness, public criticism and inconsiderate action.

"It may be that as supervisor abuse heightens tension in the relationship, the employee is less motivated or able to engage in positive interactions with the partner and other family members," said Dr. Merideth Ferguson, study co-author and assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at Baylor.

Organizations should encourage subordinates to seek support through their organization's employee assistance program or other resources (e.g., counseling, stress management) so that the employee can identify tactics or mechanisms for buffering the effect of abuse on the family, according to the study, which included 280 full-time employees and their partners.

"Employers must take steps to prevent or stop the abuse and also to provide opportunities for subordinates to effectively manage the fallout of abuse and keep it from affecting their families. Abusive supervision is a workplace reality, and this research expands our understanding of how this stressor plays out in the employee's life beyond the workplace," Carlson said.

The research was conducted with support from the Texas A&M Mays Business School Mini-Grant Program. Other co-authors of the study are Dr. Pamela L. Perrewe of Florida State University and Dr. Dwayne Whitten of Texas A&M University.

$350,000 grant funds phase two of Military Family Coping Research Project

An interdisciplinary team of Baylor University faculty, hosted and guided by the Baylor School of Social Work, has received a one-year grant of $350,000 to fund the second phase of the Military Family Coping Project, a collaborative research effort to study pre-deployment stress among soldiers, their spouses and parents.

The research is supported by the Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command. Principal investigator Dr. James W. Ellor, professor of social work at Baylor, said, "With this funding, we are able to continue the research on this significant subject, which will help us to understand the impact of deployment preparation on soldiers and their family members."

Kern Family Foundation Grant provides $2.4 million for Engineers in Entrepreneurship

Baylor University, along with three other universities, received a $2.4 million grant from the Kern Family foundation to develop innovative ways to educate engineers in entrepreneurship, teaching students how to apply the entrepreneurial spirit within existing companies. Dr. Greg Leman, Baylor's director of University Entrepreneurial Initiatives and the Curtis Hankamer Chair of Entrepreneurship, said, "It will provide students with learning opportunities to help them develop soft skills and professional attributes necessary for career success."

The blend of technology and theology can be a mixed blessing

Smartphone apps that deliver everything from sacred Christmas music to reminders to attend worship to Scriptures for meditation can be potent tools for spiritual growth, but such technology also has potential to diminish worship and fellowship with other believers, says a Baylor University associate professor of philosophy.

Dr. Douglas Henry, who teaches in Baylor's Honors College, addressed the issue in "Curiosity and Smartphones," an article in Christian Reflection, a quarterly publication of The Center for Christian Ethics at Baylor.

Henry has the BibleReader app on his phone and uses it to read the King James Version of the Bible, the English Standard Version and the Latin Vulgate. He also has the Universalis app, with prayers and meditations for various times of the day and special religious seasons such as Advent, and he acknowledges that iPads, netbooks and smartphones can be put to good spiritual use.

"Especially when traveling, I use my iPad to search, read and study Scripture... It gives me pictures of nature and works of art that...inspire my contemplative gratitude to God," he wrote. But "living in a world of perpetual mobile connectivity can be spiritually distracting, and even deforming, for those who succumb to its inducements... Whatever technology's wizardry does for us, it cannot fundamentally alter our heart's desire to love God and to love others in God."

There's the temptation to love technology too much, Henry said.

"We can be the quickest on the draw to find the latest bit of gossip or news -- but there is also an impatience we're cultivating, a desire to get instant answers and solutions. Christians are called to be pilgrims, a people who walk patiently in faith toward an end that God prepares for us."