Leader sleep devaluation, employee sleep, and unethical behavior

Published:April 22, 2020DOI:



      The objectives of this study is to examine the effect of leader sleep devaluation (which we define as leader behaviors that signal to employees that sleep should be sacrificed for work) on the sleep and unethical behavior of subordinates.


      Across 2 studies (with 3 total samples of participants), we use a cross-sectional survey, a diary study completed by employees, and a diary study completed by employees and their leaders.


      Study 1 – a convenience sample of working adults in Italy, including 575 subordinates nested under 140 leaders. Study 2A – 135 working adults recruited from Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Study 2B – 127 employee-supervisor dyads recruited from the Study Response project.


      Survey measures of leader behaviors, subordinates sleep, and subordinate unethical behavior.


      Sleep devaluing leader behavior has harmful effects on employee sleep, and that these effects occur above and beyond the effects of abusive supervision and other alternative explanations. Subordinate sleep quality has a mediating role between leader sleep devaluation and subordinate unethical behavior. Effects for sleep quantity were inconsistent.


      Leaders can adversely influence the sleep and work experience of their subordinates. Specifically, sleep devaluing leader behavior undermines subordinate sleep, which in turn is associated with higher levels of subordinate unethical behavior.


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