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How a company chooses its managers says a lot about its tolerance for workplace toxicity

A man covered in green slime
Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP
A toxic boss isn't always easy to identify.
  • Sarah Todd
By Sarah Todd

Senior reporter, Quartz and Quartz at Work


In a just world, managers who mistreat their employees would face certain barriers to success. But as a spate of recent news stories about toxic work cultures and galling executive behavior illustrates, there’s no shortage of companies where bad bosses thrive.

Sometimes these managers eventually get their comeuppance. Often they don’t. Either way, you have to ask: Why are bosses like this able to flourish for so long?

In some cases, the answer may be that the toxic culture comes from the top. “When you have abusive supervisors, you often have an organization that tolerates abusive supervision,” notes Katherine Klein, a professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

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