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Employee satisfaction and sustainable leadership practices in Thai SMEs

Suparak Suriyankietkaew (College of Management, Mahidol University, Bangkok, Thailand)
Gayle C. Avery (Institute for Sustainable Leadership and Macquarie Graduate School of Management, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia)

Journal of Global Responsibility

ISSN: 2041-2568

Article publication date: 6 May 2014



Given previous findings that employee satisfaction contributes to firm performance and sustainability, this study examined the relationships between 23 leadership/management practices on employee satisfaction. It identified specific practices with significant effects on employee satisfaction. The paper aims to discuss these issues.


Using a theoretical framework and questionnaire derived from Avery and Bergsteiner's Sustainable Leadership Model, data were collected from 1,152 employees in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bangkok, Thailand.


Overall, adopting sustainable leadership (SL) practices was related significantly to employee satisfaction, consistent with Avery and Bergsteiner's model. Twenty of the 23 SL practices were linked to enhanced employee satisfaction, the exceptions being independence from the financial markets, self-management and environmental responsibility. Specific SL practices predicted enhanced employee satisfaction more than others, the strongest predictor being high staff engagement. Other practices associated with employee satisfaction were: valuing employees, ethical behaviour, considered organizational change, a strong and shared vision, an enabling culture, and quality in products and services.

Research limitations/implications

Considerable scope exists for future research into the relationships between individual and bundles of SL practices with employee satisfaction in different national, industry and other contexts. Further limitations are discussed in the paper.

Practical implications

Managers of SMEs in Thailand and possibly in other contexts should consider adopting the SL practices shown to significantly enhance employee satisfaction and in doing so help sustain their business success.


This study pioneered research into a gap in the literature about the SL and management practices that positively predict enhanced employee satisfaction, an area of importance to both leadership practice and research.



Suriyankietkaew, S. and C. Avery, G. (2014), "Employee satisfaction and sustainable leadership practices in Thai SMEs", Journal of Global Responsibility, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 160-173.



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