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






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











Empowering leadership

Literature review

This chapter reviews the literature on empowering leadership, the impact of leadership empowerment and the outcome of empowering leadership in the organization. The review of literature entails empowering leadership based on the background of self-determination theory perspective.

Empowering leadership

Leadership is defined as guiding or directing a group of people or organization (Gallos, 2008). Several kinds of literature have established various perspective and standpoints of leadership. From a broad review, study on leadership indicates that build-up factors (intrinsic or adopted) seem to increase the well-being of the employees and motivation as far as the organizational culture is concerned (Deci & Ryan, 2000).  According to Den Hartog & Belschak (2012), empowering leadership entails the various set of leader conducts or behaviors. These behaviors are directed towards developing the self-capabilities, self-control, self-management as well as the self-leadership of the people being led (Hauschildt & Konradt, 2012). Empowering leaders involve delegation of extensive responsibility to followers which in turn creates an environment that allows employees (followers) to gratify needs for autonomy through exercising self-control as well as self-direction based on the organizational objectives (Liao, 2012). In this case, empowering leadership creates an opportunity where employees can make viable decisions and carry them the way it is expected. Since the beginning of the 21st century, there has been an increase attention with organizations in promoting autonomy particularly in self-management of teams (Stewart, 2006). Similar to this attention, the organizations have also embraced empowering of leaders/leadership as a new direction of creating a successful environment (Erkutlu, 2012).

Empowering Leadership and subordinates’ proactivity 

Several researchers have examined leadership support when it comes to promoting proactivity among employees in the organization. The central argument for these arguments is that having leadership support nurtures a high sense of self-determination among individuals and teams (Nie et al., 2014). For example, a study by De Stobbeleir, Ashford, & Sully de Luque (2010)reveals that leadership support predicts different forms of proactive behaviors such as the implementation of new ideas, creative performance as well as organizational environment initiatives. Furthermore, the null reaction revealed in the study by Stewart (2006) shows that leadership support has unrealized predictive effect when it comes to idea suggestion. In most cases, groups and teams may have diverse reactions towards a new initiative in the organization.

Social determination theory perspective

Self-determination theory suggests that individuals have essential basic psychological needs for self-sufficiency/autonomy and relatedness (Burton et al., 2006). In this case, the need for self-sufficiency/autonomy entails the aspiration to do things in freedom and choice (Deci & Ryan, 2008).  According to Roche and Haar (2011), individuals working in organizations would expect the organization to satisfy their needs to enhance the desired outcome.

Empowering leadership importance    

Empowering leadership in the organization play a key role in stimulating creativity and proactivity in employees particularly with diverse characteristics (Ruckdäschel, 2014). According to Joo, Yang and McLean, (2014), to create an effective background for promoting creativity in employees, managers ought to determine whether group individuals and teams have the capacity to direct and guide the initiative towards a set goal. Also, studying of empowering leadership opens up the opportunity to realize ways of creating competitive advantage within the organization. According to Gagné & Deci (2005), employees who are more motivated are more likely to achieve high results as far as organizational objectives are concerned.

Empowering of leadership conduct or behavior has received relatively less focus when it comes to understanding the subordinates’ autonomous work motivation compared to other leadership aspects such as transformational leadership. Therefore, the important part of this study focuses on the extension of prior researches by examining the relationship between empowering leadership and subordinates’ autonomous behavior.









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De Stobbeleir, K., Ashford, S., & Sully de Luque, M. (2010). Proactivity with image in mind: How employee and manager characteristics affect evaluations of proactive behaviours. J Occup Organ Psychol83(2), 347-369. http://dx.doi.org/10.1348/096317909×479529

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Gallos, J. (2008). Business leadership. London: John Wiley & Sons. Available at https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=o1cSJfQYrQAC&dq=Gallos,+(2013).+Business+leadership.&source=gbs_navlinks_s

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Nie, Y., Chua, B., Yeung, A., Ryan, R., & Chan, W. (2014). The importance of autonomy support and the mediating role of work motivation for well-being: Testing self-determination theory in a Chinese work organisation. Int J Psychol50(4), 245-255. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ijop.12110

Roche, Maree and Haar, Jarrod (2011) Self-determination theory and job outcomes: The moderating effects of perceived autonomous support. In: Academy of Management 71st Annual Meeting: West meets East: Enlightening. Balancing. Transcending., 12-16 August, 2011, San Antonio, Texas. Available at http://researcharchive.wintec.ac.nz/1207/

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Stewart, G. (2006). A Meta-Analytic Review of Relationships Between Team Design Features and Team Performance. Journal Of Management32(1), 29-55. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0149206305277792



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