The influence of empowering leadership on subordinates’ autonomous work motivation and their proactivity within a self-determination theory perspective

 

 

 

 

 

The influence of empowering leadership on subordinates’ autonomous work motivation and their proactivity within a self-determination theory perspective

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Introduction

Leadership, motivation, and proactive behavior have dominated organizational research for a long time. These variables are widely accepted as key factors for organizational success, and they form the topmost research agenda in the management arena (Gunasekare, 2016). This study explores the influence of two precursors of employee proactive behavior: motivation and leadership. More specifically, the study explores the relationship between empowering leadership, subordinates’ autonomous work motivation within a self-determination perspective, and their proactivity at an individual, team, and organizational level. The study also explored whether the first order factors of autonomous motivation, which include identified regulation and intrinsic motivation, would mediate the relationship between empowering leadership and subordinate proactivity.

According to the existing empirical evidence, empowering leadership and proactivity are associated with a wide range of positive outcomes, which include job performance (Thompson, 2005), career success (Tolentino et al., 2014), innovation (Nadia et al., 2014) and life satisfaction (Spitzmuller& Van Dyne, 2013). Although this gives a good reason to expect positive benefits of employee leadership empowerment and proactivity, researchers have increasingly called for an acknowledgment of the potential limitations of employee leadership and proactivity (Strauss & Parker, 2014).

It is important to note that not all proactive behaviors can predict judgments of employees’ job performance, self-satisfaction, innovation and even career success (Grant, Parker, & Collins, 2009). Moreover, research shows that there are costs associated with proactivity for both individuals and organizations (Bolino, Valcea, & Harvey, 2010). As such, it is important to understand how proactive behaviors that are effective for organizations can be promoted.

The hypotheses of this study include:

  1. Empowering leadership predicts subordinates’ autonomous work motivation comprising identified regulation and intrinsic motivation.
  2. Empowering leadership predicts subordinates’ proactivity at an individual, team, and organizational level.
  3. Subordinates’ autonomous work motivation comprising identified regulation and intrinsic motivation mediate the relationship between empowering leadership and subordinates’ proactivity at an individual, team, and organizational level.

The aspect of employee empowerment has increasingly gained popularity in executive circles, and is important in today’s management policies. Moreover, the people in organizations are faced with uncertainties, complexity and huge pressures that necessitate an empowering culture. As pointed out earlier, the study examines the underlying relationships and proposes practical strategies that can help organizations to bring about cultural change that help people and enterprise to thrive.

Parker, Williams and Turner (2006) recognizes proactive behavior is a self-initiated and future-oriented action aiming at improving self or one’s situation. It has also been found to contribute positively towards various work outcomes. However, proactive behaviors are also associated with uncertainties, and it involves change that may not always be welcomed by both peers and even superiors. Parker et al. (2010) argue that in such a case, having a supportive environment that motivates employees to try alternative ways of accomplishing their duties without having to worry about potential obstacles can significantly facilitate proactivity. However, other studies have contradicted these findings of positive relationship between empowering leadership and various forms of proactive behavior (e.g., Frese, Teng&Wijnen, 1999; Parker et al., 2006), thus suggesting the need to delve deeper into the issue of empowering leadership and proactive behavior. To address the question whether empowering leadership predicts subordinates’ autonomous work motivation and proactivity, and also whether the subordinates’ autonomous work motivation mediates the relationship between empowering leadership and subordinates’ proactivity.

References

Bolino, M., Valcea, S., & Harvey, J. (2010). Employee, manage thyself: The potentially negative implications of expecting employees to behave proactively. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology83(2), 325-345. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1348/096317910X493134/abstract

Frese, M., Teng, E., &Wijnen, C. J. (1999). Helping to improve suggestion systems: Predictors of making suggestions in companies. Journal of Organizational Behavior20(7), 1139-1155. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199912)20:7%3C1139::AID-JOB946%3E3.0.CO;2-I/abstract

Grant, A. M., Parker, S., & Collins, C. (2009). Getting credit for proactive behavior: Supervisor reactions depend on what you value and how you feel.Personnel Psychology62(1), 31-55. Available at: http://libra.msra.cn/Publication/13124070/getting-credit-for-proactive-behavior-supervisor-reactions-depend-on-what-you-value-and-how-you-feel.

Gunasekare, U. L. T. P. (2016). Self Determination Theory to Explain Charismatic Leadership in Virtual Teams: Proposing an Integrated Model.International Journal of Business Administration7(3). Available at: http://www.sciedupress.com/journal/index.php/ijba/article/download/9508/5755.

Nadia, Y. Y., Takeuchi, R., & Chen, Z. (2014, January). Proactive Team Innovation: An Integrative View of Information Exchange and Supervisor Support. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2014, No. 1, p. 13429). Academy of Management. Available at: http://proceedings.aom.org/content/2014/1/13429.short?related-urls=yes&legid=amproc;2014/1/13429

Parker, S. K., Bindl, U. K., & Strauss, K. (2010). Making things happen: A model of proactive motivation. Journal of management. 36: 827-856. Available at: http://jom.sagepub.com/content/early/2010/05/13/0149206310363732.abstract

Parker, S. K., Williams, H. M., & Turner, N. (2006). Modeling the antecedents of proactive behavior at work. Journal of applied psychology,91(3), 636. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16737360

Parker, S. K., Williams, H. M., & Turner, N. (2006). Modeling the antecedents of proactive behavior at work. Journal of applied psychology,91(3), 636. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16737360

Strauss, K., & Parker, S. K. (2014). Effective and sustained proactivity in the workplace: A self-determination theory perspective. The Oxford handbook of work engagement, motivation, and self-determination theory, 50-71. Available at: http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com/view/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199794911.001.0001/oxfordhb-9780199794911-e-007

Thompson, J. A. (2005). Proactive personality and job performance: a social capital perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology90(5), 1011. Available at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16162073

Tolentino, L. R., Garcia, P. R. J. M., Lu, V. N., Restubog, S. L. D., Bordia, P., &Plewa, C. (2014). Career adaptation: The relation of adaptability to goal orientation, proactive personality, and career optimism. Journal of Vocational Behavior84(1), 39-48. Available at: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000187911300170X

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