This paper aims to put forth a model that accounts for the effect of servant leadership on employee creativity from a social identity perspective. Specifically, this paper aims to examine team identification as the mediating mechanism by which servant leadership influence employee creativity. This paper also intends to investigate the moderating influences of horizontal and vertical collectivism on the effectiveness of servant leadership on follower team identification.
Servant leadership, team identification, collectivism (consisted of horizontal and vertical collectivism) and employee creativity were assessed in an empirical study based on a sample of 451 employees from 11 banks in China.
Drawing on social identity theory, this study found that follower team identification partially mediates the relationship between servant leadership and employee creativity. In addition, results showed that horizontal collectivism moderates the relationship between servant leadership and follower team identification; the relationship was more positive when horizontal collectivism was high, rather than low; vertical collectivism also moderates the relationship between servant leadership and follower team identification; the relationship was more positive when vertical collectivism was low, rather than high. However, results of this study indicated that the moderated mediation effects of team identification on the relationship between servant leadership and employee creativity are nonsignificant.
First, this research affirmed the need to promote servant leadership in employment settings. Second, managers’ understandings of the instrumental role of servant leadership in showing interpersonal acceptance, offering encouragement and support and expressing trust would prove to be valuable because it could enhance employee creativity. Finally, the findings from this study should help managers gain a better understanding of the contextual factors.
The first contribution of the current study was to identify team identification as an important psychological process that can link servant leadership to employee creativity. Another important contribution of the current research was the identification of the boundary conditions (e.g. horizontal and vertical collectivism).
Funding: This work was supported by the Humanities and Social Sciences Youth Project of the Ministry of Education (Grant number 19YJC630106); the Foundation by Southwest University of Science and Technology (Grant number 17sx7104).
Yang, J., Ma, C., Gu, J. and Liu, H. (2019), "Linking servant leadership to employee creativity: The roles of team identification and collectivism", Chinese Management Studies, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/CMS-08-2018-0640Download as .RIS
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