The supervisor feedback environment is empowering, but not all the time: Feedback orientation as a critical moderator

Allison S. Gabriel, Noelle B. Frantz, Paul E. Levy, Adam W. Hilliard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Literature on the feedback environment has purported that supportive environments fostered by supervisors lead to improvements in employee well-being and performance. However, little research has considered how the feedback environment affects workplace motivation or identified boundary conditions of the feedback environment to outcome relationship. The current study extends the literature by utilizing a predictive design to examine how the supervisor feedback environment affects dimensions of employee psychological empowerment (meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact) after 3 months in a sample of correctional facility employees. Further, we tested how an employee's feedback orientation, or propensity to seek and utilize feedback, attenuated or enhanced the relationship between supervisor feedback environment and empowerment. Results demonstrated that perceptions of the supervisor feedback environment differentially related to each dimension of empowerment, with the feedback environment being a positive predictor of impact and a marginally positive predictor of meaning. Moreover, when feedback orientation was high, the feedback environment exhibited a strong positive relationship with meaning, competence, and self-determination; when feedback orientation was low, relationships actually became weaker when predicting meaning and negative when predicting competence and self-determination. The results clarify the scope of impact of the supervisor feedback environment, offering theoretical and practical implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)487-506
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Feedback environment
  • Feedback orientation
  • Psychological empowerment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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