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The Impact of Servant Leadership on Employees’ Innovative Work Behaviour-Mediating Role of Psychological Empowerment

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International Journal of Management Science and Business Administration
Volume 5, Issue 3, March 2019, Pages 10-21


The Impact of Servant Leadership on Employees’ Innovative Work Behaviour-Mediating Role of Psychological Empowerment

DOI: 10.18775/ijmsba.1849-5664-5419.2014.53.1002
URL:

 1 Naveed Ahmad Faraz,  2 Muhammad Farhan Mughal, 3 Fawad Ahmed,
 4 Ali Raza1,  5 Muhammad Khalid Iqbal

 1 3 4 5 School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan, P.R. China
 2 School of Computer Sciences, Central China Normal University, P.R. China

Abstract: Change is the only constant phenomenon in this world, and organizations can bring it through innovation. This innovation ultimately leads to an organization’s competitive edge and sustainability. Every new idea primarily originates in the minds of individuals, and when it’s implemented successfully, it contributes to overall organizational innovation. Nurturing employees’ innovative work behavior (EIWB) is prudent for every organization looking to enhance its innovative outcomes. This research, at first, aimed to examine the influence of servant leadership (SL) at three distinctive levels of employees’ innovative work behavior (EIWB); namely, idea generation, idea promotion, and idea realization. Then, we investigated the influence of SL on overall EIWB. Finally, employees’ Psychological Empowerment (PE) is assessed as a mediator through which SL exerts its influence on EIWB. Servant leadership in conjunction with Social Exchange theories were used to develop the conceptual model of this research. Cross-sectional data were collected from 283 entry-level officers working in different Power Sector Companies of Pakistan. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was employed through Smart-PLS 3.2.8 software to analyze the hypothesized relationships. The findings of this research show that SL positively influences each stage of EIWB as well as EIWB at an integrated level. Employees’ Psychological Empowerment (PE) partially mediates the positive influence of SL on EIWB. This research is one of the pioneers to examine the influence of SL at different levels of EIWB. Further, investigating employees’ PE as mediating between the relationship of SL and EIWB is also a unique contribution of this research. Besides offering the theoretical and managerial implications, detailed discussion on the results is carried out. Lastly, the limitations of this study and potential avenues for future research are highlighted.

Keywords: Servant leadership, Employees’ innovative Work behavior, Psychological empowerment, Power sector of Pakistan

1. Introduction

Change is the only constant phenomenon in this world. Sustaining the status quo is no longer a pragmatic choice for organizations. Successful and continuous innovation is vibrant for the existence of organizations in this competitive business world. Ever-changing business environment compels organizations to look at innovation as a source of productivity, efficiency, and sustainability. The competitive advantage of an organization transpires from the ideation and implantation of novel ideas by its individuals. Organizations are keen to explore all the antecedents having the potential to enhance employees’ innovative work behavior (A. Agarwal, 2014; Scott & Bruce, 1994). In fact, without the participation of employees, no organization can achieve innovation (Abstein & Spieth, 2014). Alongside the significance of innovation, researchers have widely acknowledged the need for leadership to focus and direct the creative and innovative efforts of individuals to overall organizational innovation (Friedrich, Mumford, Vessey, Beeler, & Eubanks, 2010; Tushman & Nadler, 1986). As business environments changed, leadership has also faced new challenges. Particularly, one important trend in this respect is the growing dependence on human resources of organizations (O’Leary, Lindholm, Whitford, & Freeman, 2002). Consequently, academicians started exploring a leadership style predominantly concerned with the employees’ needs, known as servant leadership. Both academicians and practitioners substantively highlighted the need for a more people-centered leadership style that forced leadership scholars to revisit the caring style of leadership such as servant leadership (Hunter et al., 2013; Peterson, Galvin, & Lange, 2012). Those organizations that are keen to nurture innovation must pay attention to leadership that can inspire and champion its vision to its employees. Professional and personal development of the followers is the top priority of servant leaders, encouraging them to deliver their best efforts. Researchers have now started to explore the influence of servant leadership on the creative and innovative behavior of the employees (Jaiswal & Dhar, 2015; Yoshida, Sendjaya, Hirst, & Cooper, 2014). A critical review of the empirical literature revealed a handful of studies on the relationship between servant leadership and employees innovation (Eva, Robin, Sendjaya, van Dierendonck, & Liden, 2018). Therefore, investigating the impact of SL on EIWB in the presence of different mediating/moderating variables is highly justified. Moreover, this is one of the pioneer researches to examine the influence of SL at different levels of EIWB including idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization. Employees’ Psychological Empowerment (PE) is investigated as a mediating variable in the relationship between SL and EIWB. The theoretical lens to develop the conceptual model of this study derived its concepts from Social Exchange and servant leadership theories. We introduced and tested a unique model of EIWB.

The layout of this article is as follows: the next section will elaborate on the theoretical grounds of variables under consideration. Based on theoretical and empirical evidence, hypotheses are then proposed followed by pictorial representations of conceptual models. After that, the research methodology is presented followed by the results and analysis section. Lastly, discussion on results, theoretical and practical implications are presented while ending the article with the study’s limitations and potential avenues for future research.

2. How to Recognize a Good Manager?

2.1 Employees’ Innovative Work Behavior (EIWB)

The first definition of EIWB was given by West and Farr (West & Farr, 1989) stating that “all employee behavior directed at the generation, introduction and/ or application (within a role, group or organization) of ideas, processes, products or procedures, new to the relevant unit of adoption that supposedly significantly benefit the relevant unit of adoption”. Following West and Farr, Janssen (Janssen, 2000) defined EIWB as “the intentional creation, introduction, and application of new ideas within a work role, group, or organization, to benefit role performance, the group, or the organization.” Janssen identified three separate stages: idea generation, idea promotion, and idea realization (Janssen, 2000). Organizations should foster employee innovation to create organizational success (Axtell, Holman, & Wall, 2006). For organizations to innovate and then successfully implement the innovation, they must rely on their employees to deliver their processes, methods, and operations (Ramamoorthy, Flood, Slattery, & Sardessai, 2005). This is done through the employee’s engagement in individual innovative behavior. Innovative behavior is unlike creativity in the sense that it is intended to provide some sort of benefit to the organization (De Jong & Den Hartog, 2010). Creativity is required and necessary only for the stage of idea realization. Idea generation of an employee is presented in his/her out of the box thinking and coming up with distinctive solutions or improvements related to prevailing services, products or processes (Amabile, 1988). Idea promotion is necessary to win the support of the relevant decision making authorities, especially for new ideas that often go against the grain and can be costly, leading to unwanted risk. Thus, the backing and support of highly committed people at powerful positions are imperative for the accomplishment of innovative ideas (Howell, Shea, & Higgins, 2005). Lastly, idea realization involves introducing and incorporating concepts in actual products, processes, or services enabling everyone to see the innovation (Moss Kanter, 1988). EIWB is the basic building block for improved organizational performance, and thus, it is highly justified to explore all the factors that aid or boost such behaviors of the employees (Scott & Bruce, 1994).

2.2 Servant Leadership (SL)

Greenleaf (Robert, 1977) refers to servant leadership not as a management technique but as a way of life, which starts with a “natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first” (p.14), and then aims to lead. Hale et al. defined servant leadership as, “an understanding and practice of leadership that places the good of those led over the self-interest of the leader, emphasizing leader behaviors that focus on follower development, and de-emphasizing glorification of the leader” (Hale & Fields, 2007). Liden et al. (Liden, Wayne, Zhao, & Henderson, 2008) distributed the essential characteristics of servant leadership into seven dimensions, as comprising of: 1-Emotional healing, 2-Empowering, 3-Helping subordinates to grow and succeed, 4-Putting subordinates first, 5-Creating value for the community, 6-Having conceptual skills, and 7-Behaving ethically. Emotional healing requires the demonstration of care and sensitivity towards followers and ensuring their well-being. Empowering subordinates include facilitation and encouragement of their abilities to take responsibility and provide them the necessary freedom to act upon and manage the tough situations in their way. Such leaders also aid their followers to grow and succeed through showing genuine concern in their career development and goals attainment by offering appropriate opportunities for them to perfect their skills. These leaders put their subordinates’ interest and achievements ahead of their own. Another unique characteristic of servant leaders is their concern for the community development outside the premises of the organization. They also encourage their followers to follow the same footsteps. Servant leaders own and exhibit a lot of conceptual skills. Because of their sound understanding and due to their insight into relevant information about the organization, its goals, and tasks, they are usually in a position to offer timely support, direction, and resources to the followers’. Finally, ethical behavior by virtue of open, fair and honest integration with others is also a valuable trait of servant leaders. There is a growing interest of the scholars to enlarge servant leadership’s nomological network by exploring and demonstrating the practical value and utility of this leadership style through empirical evidence. Servant leadership has proven its utility by yielding diversified positive outcomes at organizational (Choudhary, Akhtar, & Zaheer, 2013; Liden, Wayne, Liao, & Meuser, 2014), team/group (Yang, Liu, & Gu, 2017; Yoshida et al., 2014) and individual levels (Donia, Raja, Panaccio, & Wang, 2016; Panaccio, Henderson, Liden, Wayne, & Cao, 2015; Van Dierendonck, Stam, Boersma, De Windt, & Alkema, 2014).

2.3 Servant Leadership (SL) and Employees’ Innovative Work Behavior (EIWB)

Leaders always have the potential to influence the capacity of followers to come up with novel and practical ideas for resolving problems (Amabile, 1988; Zhou & Shalley, 2003). ]. Servant leaders can enhance EIWB by empowering their followers and encouraging them to take risks. Empowerment, helping to grow and succeed, and conceptual skills are the characteristics of SL which can help to increase and are closely related to EIWB at the workplace. Yoshida et al. (Yoshida et al., 2014) ] found that by way of relational identification, servant leaders stimulate innovative behavior of subordinates. Although the literature investigating the influence of SL on EIWB is scarce, there are few empirical studies where SL has shown its positive influence in enhancing EIWB (Krog & Govender, 2015; Panaccio et al., 2015; Rasheed, Lodhi, & Habiba, 2016). ]. Employing the theoretical lens of social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) is also useful in understanding the impact of SL on EIWB. Servant leaders believe in forming a close relationship with the subordinates by putting them first, helping them and always remaining honest with them. Servant leaders’ commitment creates an obligation for the followers’ to reciprocate in the same manner while doing their job. There is not a single study which has examined the influence of SL on different stages of EIWB. However, the other leadership styles like transformational and relational leadership have been examined to demonstrate their influence at different levels of EIWB. In the same manner, this research formulated the following hypothesis:

H1: Servant Leadership directly and positively affects the Idea Generation stage of EIWB.
H2: Servant Leadership directly and positively affects the Idea Promotion stage of EIWB.
H3: Servant Leadership directly and positively affects the Idea Realization stage of EIWB.
H4: Servant Leadership directly and positively affects the overall construct of EIWB.

2.4  Servant Leadership and Employees’ Psychological Empowerment

Meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact are four sub-constructs that form the overall constructs of PE, which is considered to be similar to intrinsic motivation (Spreitzer, 1995). Though researchers reasoned that PE is the way through which SL exerts its positive impact on the followers’ outcomes (Liden et al., 2008; Russell & Gregory Stone, 2002), the empirical evidence supporting this argument is limited (Newman, Schwarz, Cooper, & Sendjaya, 2017). This remains the case even though almost all the SL scales emphasized the importance of empowerment as an important trait of servant leaders (Ehrhart, 2004; Laub, 1999; Liden et al., 2008; Van Dierendonck & Nuijten, 2011). Through empowerment, SL can influence the employees’ outcomes in many ways. Firstly, by providing them development opportunities and focusing on their personal needs (Gregory Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004; Newman et al., 2017), and, secondly, through fair treatment and respect rather than considering them as a source of personal or organizational advantage. Walumbwa et al. (Walumbwa, Hartnell, & Oke, 2010) recently investigated the impact of SL on employees’ self-efficacy, a construct similar to competence dimension of PE, and found significant positive results. Further, servant leaders create a sense of competence in their followers by providing them the opportunities to acquire new skills through training. Thirdly, SL believes in participative decision making which possibly heightens the self-determination perception of the followers’(Robert, 1977; Van Dierendonck, 2011). Lastly, SL realizes the intensity of the impact their followers’ work has on the overall organizational level, which in turn allows them to understand the worth (meaning) of their jobs. To conclude, servant leaders nourish the psychological empowerment of the followers by increasing the subordinates’ perceptions of meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact. Thus, the following hypothesis is framed:

H5: Servant Leadership directly and positively affects the EPE.

2.5 Psychological Empowerment and Employees’ Innovative Work Behavior

PE gives a good feeling regarding the tasks the employees’ are performing. They also start perceiving their jobs as challenging and meaningful. This positive perception leads them to demonstrate innovative behaviors by aligning personal goals with that of the organizations (Jha, 2014). Control over decision-making, freedom, the capability to impact others, flexibility and meaningfulness of the work encourage employees to perform innovatively in their jobs (Kendall, Chu, Gifford, Hayes, & Nauta, 1998). When employees are empowered, they find their work meaningful, which gives them the intrinsic motivation that ultimately leads to innovative work behavior (Laschinger, Finegan, Shamian, & Wilk, 2004). Psychological empowerment encourages change, and employees’ innovative work behavior is a way to generate change (Conger & Kanungo, 1988). Psychological empowerment leads to intrinsic motivation, flexibility, and self-determination in performing a job, allowing the employees to show innovative work behavior (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Recent empirical evidence has also established a positive association of employees’ PE with IWB (Afsar, F. Badir, & Bin Saeed, 2014). This discussion leads to postulate the following hypothesis:

H6: PE directly and positively affects their IWB.

2.6 Mediating role of Employees’ Psychological Empowerment

When employees’ are empowered, they start to realize their self-worth, and this, in turn, encourages them to believe in their skills, capabilities, abilities and stimulates them to show confidence. This impacts their work outcomes meaningfully by offering an added value. Such positive belief allows them to participate in other creative and innovative initiatives (Burleson, 2005), besides involvement in extra-role efforts and coming up with new ideas and reasons to implement those ideas. When employees recognize that their jobs are autonomous, meaningful and personally valuable, they will start to deal with complex problems and look for new ways of improvement (Gilson & Shalley, 2004). Further, servant leadership is an approach which remains more open to employees; servant leaders share more information and always remain open to hearing suggestion from their subordinates. Researchers have already emphasized the mediating role of psychological empowerment in different leadership styles and important individual and group level outcomes (Afsar et al., 2014; Avolio, Zhu, Koh, & Bhatia, 2004). Milton and van Dierendonck (Jorge Correia de Sousa & van Dierendonck, 2014) identified PE as a mediator in the relationship of SL with employee engagement. More specifically, Camilla L. Krog and Krishna Govender (Krog & Govender, 2015) examined employee PE as a mediator in the relationship between SL and EIWB. Their findings suggested that employees’ PE mediates the said relationship. Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed:

H7: PE significantly mediates the positive influence of SL on EIWB.

3. Research Methods

3.1 Sample and Procedure

We requested a list of all the entry level officers working in the Power Sector Companies of Pakistan from the concerned HR-Department. Systematic sampling, a probability sampling technique was used for the selection of 450 samples. Cross-sectional data were collected from the sampled respondents through a self-administered questionnaire. Besides, data on the constructs, demographic information was also requested voluntarily while ensuring anonymity and secrecy. The questionnaire was designed via Google docs. Webb-link of the online questionnaire was sent to 450 entry-level officers. Two hundred ninety-two (292) completed questionnaires were received, and out of those 283 questionnaires were retained for the final analysis. Nine (09) questionnaires were discarded due to incompleteness or lack of variation. Thus, the final response rate of this research is 62.89%. The entire questionnaire was designed in English language is the medium of official dealings in Pakistan (Faraz, Yanxia, Ahmed, Estifo, & Raza, 2018).

3.2 Measurement

All the responses were measured by the ratings of the respondents on a five-point Likert scale where ‘1’ represents ‘strongly disagree’ and ‘5’ represents ‘strongly agree.’ Employees’ innovative work behavior: This construct was measured by nine (09) item scale developed by Janssen (Janssen, 2000). The scale comprised of three distinctive dimensions: namely, idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization forming the overall EIWB construct. Each dimension consists of three (03) items. The validity scale was established. Servant leadership: SL was assessed by the respondents’ rating on a seven (07) item scale developed by Liden et al. (Liden et al., 2015). The scale comprised of items forming the seven (07) dimensions of SL construct. Psychological Empowerment: Spreitzer (Spreitzer, 1995) developed a twelve (12) item scale to measure psychological empowerment. There are four sub-dimensions of this scale, namely: meaning, competence, self-determination, and impact. Each sub-dimension is measured with three (03) items.

3.3 Sample Profile

Table-1 presented below, summarizes the sample profile of this research. Information regarding gender, age, job nature, tenure, and education level of 283 respondents is precisely elaborated.

Table-1: Sample Profile

Total respondents 283
Gender Male (68%)                                                        Female (32%)
Age in Years 18 to 25 (31%)   26 to 35 (29%)    36 to 45 (24%)    46 to 55 (13%)     55 & Above (03%)
Nature of the Job Technical (66%) Non-Technical (34%)
Tenure in Years Less than 1 (7%)       1-5 (20%)       6-10 (36%)       11-15 (28%)       Above 15   09%
Education Level Below Graduation (05%)                      Graduation (39%)                      Master (56%)        

Sample profile of the respondents revealed that 68% of respondents are male, as compared to 32% of female. Seemingly, this indicates male dominance of employees; however, this variety is embedded in the culture of Pakistan and corroborates employment trends of the country. The statistics regarding age showed that majority of the respondents’ age is within the brackets of 18 to 45 years. This is a positive indicator and proves the absence of old age phenomenon in employment. Majority of the respondents’ job nature is technical, which is consistent with the fact that the Power Sector Companies of Pakistan employ individuals having technical expertise. As far as the tenure of the respondents is concerned, 36% of the respondents have 06 to 10 years of experience, which is the highest percentage in the dataset. Lastly, the education level of the respondents is also consistent with the job requirements in the Power Sector of Pakistan and the majority of the respondents are very well educated (Graduation & Master).

4. Results and Analysis

4.1 Measurement Model Evaluation

The evaluation of the measurement model in PLS-SEM is based on individual indicator reliability, construct reliability, convergent validity, and discriminant validity. The upcoming sections present the evaluation of the measurement model of this research.

4.1.1 Reliability

Internal consistency of items in measuring a construct is known as ‘Reliability’ of the construct. It is the extent to which the items on an instrument are homogenous and reflect the same underlying construct (Cooper & Schindler, 2014). Typically, Cronbach’s alpha coefficient indicates the consistency of the measurement items. However, Hair et al. (Joseph F Hair Jr, Hult, Ringle, & Sarstedt, 2016) argue that Cronbach’s alpha might not be a suitable measure of reliability because it assumes that all indicators are equally reliable and the loadings of items on a construct are equal. PLS-SEM uses another measure of internal consistency – ‘Composite Reliability (CR)’ (Joseph F Hair Jr et al., 2016). The CR is the extent to which reflective items indicate the latent variable, and it deals with the reliability of the individual item. Cronbach’s alpha and Composite Reliability values are presented in Table-2 below.

4.1.2 Convergent Validity

Convergent validity is the degree to which responses on an item correlate with responses of other items for the same construct (Cooper & Schindler, 2014). Hair et al. (Joseph F Hair Jr et al., 2016) suggested that ‘Average Variance Extracted (AVE)’ must be considered to assess the convergent validity of a reflective measure. AVE is a good measure of convergent validity and is defined as the total amount of variance in the indicators accounted for the latent variables with the cutoff point of 0.5 (Joseph F Hair Jr et al., 2016). The AVE values along with other descriptive statistics are shown in Table-2 below.

Nonetheless, this idea and this study have its limits; it is questionable. It shows a very theoretical portrait: in fact, the woman would be more enterprising, more honest, more endowed to form team cohesion, but not very strong in initiative taking, which is more recognizable as a male characteristic. To say that a woman would be more honest in her management may be a common stereotype in the same way as to say that she would pay better attention to others. Alternatively, the assumption leaving superiority to men over the ability to develop a strategic point of view for the company is equally stereotypical.

Besides, some argue that there are no scientific proofs for the assumption that a woman manages differently from a man, and it is life experiences, and not gender, that which forges the character of a manager. Other critics like Mickael Hingan, in 2016, went even further to say that this article by Diana Rillet was useless. For him, the truth is that it is each individual (man or woman) with his own “human qualities,” “Skills” and “experiences” that will make the much-awaited difference in the area in which he or she evolves according to his or her sensitivities. Moreover, that is because the author of this article is paradoxically a woman. Furthermore, there are women who manage the same like men and vice versa (Look for example politics is a beautiful showcase that illustrates that). Also, if we look around ourselves, we will see that there are men who developed their femininity and women who embraced their masculinity.

Table-2: Descriptive Statistics and Reliability/ Validity Indicators

Variable Name / Reliability & Validity Indicators Item Loadings Mean SD Skewness Kurtosis
Employees’ Innovative Work Behavior (EIWB)

 

 

Alpha=0.966, CR=0.970, AVE=0.728

IG1 0.759 3.551 1.134 -0.287 -0.614
IG2 0.717 3.312 1.147 -0.413 -0.527
IG3 0.809 3.261 1.210 -0.354 -0.723
IP1 0.804 3.109 1.136 -0.404 -0.609
IP2 0.813 3.447 1.143 -0.304 -0.491
IP3 0.869 3.468 1.215 -0.283 -0.508
IR1 0.743 3.109 1.085 -0.304 -0.599
IR2 0.788 3.048 1.124 -0.207 -0.581
IR3 0.811 3.308 1.087 -0.189 -0.498
Psychological Empowerment (PE)

 

 

Alpha=0.963, CR=0.968, AVE=0.714

M1 0.745 3.067 1.067 0.043 -0.368
M2 0.752 3.291 1.004 -0.336 0.509
M3 0.791 3.049 1.135 -0.265 -0.622
C1 0.744 3.434 1.012 -0.381 0.530
C2 0.805 3.646 1.125 -0.414 -0.651
C3 0.743 3.120 1.039 -0.313 -0.591
SD1 0.802 3.591 1.206 -0.258 0.465
SD2 0.821 3.287 1.109 -0.339 -0.599
SD3 0.819 3.404 1.166 -0.264 -0.410
I1 0.808 3.349 1.022 -0.446 0.526
I2 0.819 3.268 1.007 -0.238 -0.609
13 0.730 3.409 1.031 -0.204 -0.457
Servant Leadership (SL)

 

 

Alpha=0.923, CR=0.939, AVE=0.687

SL1 0.822 3.445 1.109 -0.288 -0.702
SL2 0.85 3.621 1.221 -0.303 0.513
SL3 0.879 3.520 1.035 -0.379 -0.525
SL4 0.879 3.209 1.109 -0.288 -0.673
SL5 0.856 3.524 1.116 -0.373 0.562
SL6 0.737 3.140 1.102 -0.452 -0.590
SL7 0.768 3.237 1.025 -0.362 -0.571

Note: CR (Composite Reliability), AVE (Average Variance Extracted), IG (Idea Generation), IP (Idea Promotion), IR (Idea Realization), M (Meaning), C (Competence), SD (Self-determination), I (Impact).

4.1.3 Discriminant Validity

Fornell & Larcker (Fornell & Larcker, 1981) ] proposed a stringent approach to assess discriminant validity. They recommend that the square root of each construct’s AVE is required to be more than its highest correlation with any other construct. Another method to access discriminant validity was proposed by Henseler, Ringle, and Sarstedt (Henseler, Ringle, & Sarstedt, 2015), based on the hetrotrait-monotrait (HTMT) ratio of the correlations. In the latest guidelines of PLS-SEM, HTMT is strongly recommended to be reported for establishing discriminant validity of the constructs. For models having similar constructs, the threshold value of 0.90 HTMT is a good indicator to establish discriminant validity (Henseler et al., 2015). Discriminant validity through different established criteria is ensured in Table-3 given below.

Table-3: Discriminant Validity of the Constructs

Constructs IG IP IR SL PE EIWB
Idea Generation 0.910 0.814 0.729 0.772    
Idea Promotion 0.809 0.845 0.806 0.831    
Idea Realization 0.882 0.835 0.853 0.765    
SL 0.721 0.787 0.727 0.829 0.831 0.765
PE       0.786 0.845 0.806
EIWB 0.727 0.836 0.853

Note: Values at the diagonal denote the square root of AVE.  Above the diagonal, the values of HTMT have been placed. Further, values of the correlations among the constructs have been depicted underneath the diagonal.

4.2 Structural Model Evaluation

Results of the structural model will be used to analyze whether the formulated relationships (hypotheses) are statistically significant or otherwise. Evaluation of the structural model is done through the values of path coefficients (β), t-values, p-values and confidence intervals (bias corrected). Table-4 below displays values of all those indicators. For the model quality, the values of R2 are also given in the said Table.

Table-4: Results of Hypotheses

Hypothesized Relations β-Value SD t-Value Confidence Interval (Bias Corrected) Result R2
5 % LL 95% UL
H1: SL -> Idea Generation 0.721 0.038 19.100 0.645 0.773 Supported 0.520
H2: SL -> Idea Promotion 0.878 0.034 23.276 0.713 0.829 Supported 0.619
H3: SL -> Idea Realization 0.727 0.043 17.057 0.640 0.787 Supported 0.529
H4: SL -> EIWB 0.726 0.042 17.330 0.647 0.786 Supported 0.527
H5: SL -> PE 0.786 0.031 25.428 0.724 0.831 Supported 0.618
H6: PE -> EIWB 0.693 0.062 11.154 0.589 0.791 Supported 0.185
Hypothesized Relations Indirect Effect SD t-value Confidence Interval (Bias Corrected) Result R2
5 % LL 95% UL
H7: SL -> PE -> EIWB 0.545 0.050 10.932 0.470 0.628 Supported 0.712

Note: We used a bootstrapping routine as suggested by Hair et al. (Joe F Hair Jr, Matthews, Matthews, & Sarstedt, 2017) with 5000 subsamples, 283 observations per subsample, and a no sign change option to determine the significance of the path coefficients.  p < .05, one-tailed was used. LL (Lower Limit), UL (Upper Limit).

Results, presented in Table-4 above, clearly validated all the hypothesized paths are significant (p < 0.05). Servant leadership is positively and significantly related to Idea Generation (β=0.721, t=19.100, p < 0.05), to Idea Promotion (β= 0.878, t=23.276, p < 0.05), to Idea Realization (β= 0.727, t=17.057, p < 0.05), and to overall EIWB (β= 0.726, t=17.330, p < 0.05). The direct path from SL to PE gives (β= 0.786, t=25.428, p < 0.05), while PE to EIWB (β= 0.693, t=11.154, p < 0.05).  As far as the result of mediation analysis from SL to EIWB through PE is concerned, it is positive and significant (β= 0.545, t=10.932, p < 0.05). Further, in accordance to the latest instructions regarding the use of confidence intervals (bias-corrected) rather the p-values, results of this study fully supported that the hypothesized relationships are significantly supported because the confidence intervals did not contain a zero value (Sarstedt, 2017). The R2 values are used to determine the percentage of variance explained by the exogenous constructs in the endogenous constructs (Joseph F Hair Jr et al., 2016). Hock and Ringle (Hock & Ringle, 2010) stated that the results more than the cutoffs of 0.67, 0.33 and 0.19 to be labeled as ‘substantial,’ ‘moderate,’ and ‘weak’ respectively. The findings of this research demonstrate that the model explains more than 71% variance in EIWB which can be labeled as ‘substantial’ variance explained. As far as the stages of EIWB are concerned, SL explains the greatest variance in Idea Promotion stage equal to 61.90%. The specific amount of variance explained by PE is 18.5% which should be considered as ‘weak’ in the guidelines referred above. Figure-3 below provides an overview of the PLS-SEM structural model.

Figure-3: PLS-SEM Structural Model

5. Discussion and Implications Conclusion

We can say that women manage differently than men because they have a de facto management, while men apply management of the law. It appears that they have made much progress because they are more present in major decision-making; which was not the case before. Women’s management style (participative) is quite different from that of men (authoritarian, directive and often laissez-faire). Moreover, some women adopt a type of management similar to that of men. There are, of course, common characteristics identifying the leaders that correspond to the culture of the company and the sector of activity. Denying the female manager’s values would be quite reductive. Women have had to develop specific skills through corporate culture. However, do women account for a better group cohesion?

5.1 Discussion

This research aimed to investigate the impact of SL at different stages of EIWB along with identification of the path through which SL exerts its influence on EIWB. The results of this research strongly indicate that SL has a direct positive impact on all the stages of EIWB. SL explains more than 50% of the variance in idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization stages of EIWB. Moreover, SL has a significant direct positive impact on EIWB. This finding is consistent with the other studies which tried to investigate this relationship (Krog & Govender, 2015; Rasheed et al., 2016). The results of this research can also be corroborated by the theoretical lens of social exchange perspective. The amount of variance SL explains in EIWB in this study is almost 53%. Employees’ psychological empowerment has been identified as a mediator by which SL exerts its influence on EIWB. The additional variance explained by PE in EIWB is accounted for 18.5%. As far as the magnitude of the mediation through PE is concerned, it is found as ‘partial mediation, which means that even after the significant positive mediation of PE, the path from SL to EIWB is still significant. Form this it can be inferred that there could be additional mediators which can be analyzed in the relationship of SL to EIWB.

5.2 Theoretical and Managerial Implications

This study offered three distinctive theoretical contributions. Firstly, this is one of the pioneer researches where the impact of servant leadership style has been investigated at different stages of employees’ innovative work behavior. Secondly, this study has employed employees’ psychological empowerment as a mediator in the relationship between servant leadership and employees’ innovative work behavior. This inclusion makes the conceptual model of this research a unique model that has never been investigated before. Third and lastly, this research included self-determination as a component of employees’ PE construct making this construct similar to intrinsic motivation. It has partially responded to the call for investigation (Eva et al., 2018). Theoretically speaking all of the above-mentioned contributions are important for the academicians to get a deeper understanding of the knowledge stream on SL and EIWB.

The findings of this research are also helpful to practitioners. This research showed the positive influence of SL at different levels of EIWB as well as at the aggregate level. Moreover, psychological empowerment has been found as a mediator in the relationship between SL and EIWB. This showed that SL is an employee-oriented leadership style. Servant leaders believe in empowering their followers who in return offers a valuable contribution to the organization like EIWB. Precisely speaking, the results of this research supported the argument that empowerment, emotional healing, ethical behavior and the help of subordinates’ by a servant leader can be recognized as significant ‘tools’ by which employees’ behavior regarding idea generation, idea promotion and idea realization can be improved. Thus, managers should have a keen focus on such attributes if they want to have a greater innovative workforce in their organizations.

5.3 Limitations of the Study and Future Research Directions

At the outset, it is accepted that this is cross-sectional research and hence it lacks in proving causality. This limitation can be outdone through a longitudinal research design. The data of this study were collected on a self-reported questionnaire which can cause common method and social desirability biases. To overcome this limitation, it is suggested to get data regarding EIWB from the immediate supervisors or colleagues of employees. Further, this research investigated only one mediator, psychological empowerment in the relationship between SL and EIWB. Future research should include additional mediators and moderators to develop a rigorous and comprehensive model. Lastly, this research included employees from the Power Sector Companies of Pakistan only. Inclusion of multiple industries and contextual settings will enhance the generalizability of the findings.

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