What drives trickle-down effects? a test of multiple mediation processes

David X.H. Wo, Maureen L. Ambrose, Marshall Schminke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

101 Scopus citations


Organizational research has established the existence of trickle-down effects, wherein the perceptions, attitudes, or behavior of one person in an organization affects those of another person at a lower level. Although current research has explained the phenomenon using several different theoretical perspectives, prior studies have not explicitly tested the theorized mechanisms. This paper develops and tests a model that incorporates three theories of trickle-down effects for interactional justice perceptions: social exchange theory, social learning theory, and displaced aggression. Using crosssectional data from 200 supervisor-subordinate dyads in Study 1 and longitudinal data from 270 supervisor-subordinate dyads in Study 2, we test this multiple mediator model. The results demonstrate that the two aspects of interactional justice perceptions- interpersonal and informational justice perceptions-trickle down fromsupervisors to subordinates through two different mechanisms. Specifically, displaced aggression accounts for the trickle-down effects of interpersonal justice perceptions and social exchange accounts for the trickle-down effects of informational justice perceptions. We discuss the implications of the findings for research on trickle-down effects and organizational justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1848-1868
Number of pages21
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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