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Unpacking the chain mediation process between transformational leadership and knowledge worker creative performance: evidence from China

Kwame Ansong Wadei (School of Economics and Management, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China , Chengdu, China)
Chen Lu (School of Economics and Management, Centre for West African Studies, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China , Chengdu, China)
Weijun Wu (School of Public Management, University of Electronic Science and Technology of China , Chengdu, China)

Chinese Management Studies

ISSN: 1750-614X

Article publication date: 8 February 2021

Issue publication date: 31 March 2021

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Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to draw upon motivated information processing theory to examine the sequential mediating roles of perspective taking and boundary spanning between transformational leadership and the creative performance of knowledge workers.

Design/methodology/approach

The study was carried out on a sample, including a dyad of 398 knowledge workers and their immediate supervisors in four research institutes in southwest China. The authors tested the theoretical model using structural equation modeling (SEM) and Mplus 7.0 software.

Findings

The results support the mediation model in which perspective taking was found to significantly and positively mediate the relationship between transformational leadership and boundary spanning. Boundary spanning was found to significantly and positively mediate the relationship between perspective taking and creative performance. Moreover, both perspective taking and boundary spanning were found to mediate the relationship between transformational leadership and creative performance.

Practical implications

The study findings imply that the transformational leadership behaviors of managers or supervisors nurture knowledge workers' perspective taking and their boundary spanning activities leading to creative performance.

Originality/value

The findings contribute new knowledge to the relationship between transformational leadership and creative performance by uncovering the causal chain of a cognitive mechanism (perspective taking) with a behavioral mechanism (boundary spanning).

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The first two authors contributed equally to this paper and are listed in order of increasing seniority. The authors acknowledge the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 72072019 and No. 71533002), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities of China (Grant No. ZYGX2020FRJH012). The authors thank Yuemei Wang for assistance in data analyses. Correspondence regarding this article should be addressed to Lu Chen (chenlu@uestc.edu.cn).

Citation

Wadei, K.A., Lu, C. and Wu, W. (2021), "Unpacking the chain mediation process between transformational leadership and knowledge worker creative performance: evidence from China", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 483-498. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-03-2020-0118

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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