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Transformational leadership and employee knowledge sharing: explore the mediating roles of psychological safety and team efficacy

Jielin Yin (School of Economics and Management, Beijing Information Science and Technology University, Beijing, China)
Zhenzhong Ma (Nanjing Audit University, Nanjing, China and Odette School of Business, University of Windsor, Windsor, Canada)
Haiyun Yu (School of Business, Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China)
Muxiao Jia (School of Economics and Management, Beijing Information Science and Technology University, Beijing, China)
Ganli Liao (School of Economics and Management, Beijing Information Science and Technology University, Beijing, China)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 8 November 2019

Issue publication date: 12 March 2020

2507

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims—based on past research works which have shown that transformational leadership has positive impact on knowledge sharing—to explore the impact of different leadership dimensions of transformational leadership on knowledge sharing and further to explore the mechanism through which transformational leadership affects employee knowledge sharing in China.

Design/methodology/approach

Based on the transformational leadership theory and the team learning theory, it is proposed that all four dimensions of transformational leadership, including intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation and idealized influence, have unique impact on employee knowledge sharing. It is further proposed that psychology safety and team efficacy mediate these relationships. Then data were collected from over 400 employees from knowledge-based companies in China to empirically test the proposed relationships with the method of structural equation modeling.

Findings

The results show that psychological safety fully mediated the impact of intellectual stimulation on knowledge sharing, and team efficacy fully mediated the impact of inspirational motivation on knowledge sharing. Both factors also mediated the impact of individualized consideration on knowledge sharing. The results thus provide empirical support for the impact of transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing in an international context.

Originality/value

The past years have seen increasing interest in leadership and knowledge sharing in emerging markets, yet the mechanism through which leadership affects employee knowledge sharing remains understudied. This study explores the impact of different dimensions of transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing, and further shows that psychological safety and team efficacy mediate these relationships in a collectivistic society where knowledge sharing is consistent with cultural norms. The findings help develop more robust knowledge sharing theories in the international context and provide insightful suggestions for management practitioners in emerging markets.

Keywords

Citation

Yin, J., Ma, Z., Yu, H., Jia, M. and Liao, G. (2020), "Transformational leadership and employee knowledge sharing: explore the mediating roles of psychological safety and team efficacy", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 150-171. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-12-2018-0776

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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