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Empowering and directive leadership and taking charge: a moderating role of employee intrinsic motivation

Seckyoung Loretta Kim (College of Business Administration, Incheon National University, Incheon, South Korea)
Seokhwa Yun (College of Business Administration, Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea)
Minyoung Cheong (Department of Business Administration, School of Management, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, South Korea)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 18 July 2023

Issue publication date: 29 August 2023




This study aims to investigate the associations among different leadership styles and employees' taking charge. Applying Person–Environment (P-E) fit theory, the current study further explores employees' intrinsic motivation as an important individual factor that possibly moderates the hypothesized relationships.


In this field study, 212 supervisor–employee matched multi-source data were collected from multiple organizations located in South Korea. Data were analyzed with multiple hierarchical regression.


Empowering leadership is positively related to employees' taking charge, whereas directive leadership is negatively associated with it. Results of the current study further support that intrinsically motivated employees exhibit more taking charge when their leader shows empowering leadership but reduce their taking charge when their leader demonstrates directive leadership.

Research limitations/implications

The current empirical results could not infer causality due to a cross-sectional research design.

Practical implications

Organizations should develop and embrace empowering leadership if the employees' self-started and change-oriented behavior, taking charge, is particularly critical to fostering organizational effectiveness.


This study extends the literature on leadership and employee proactivity by examining different leadership styles as predictors of employees' taking charge. Based on the current study results, empowering leadership could work as a facilitator and directive leadership as a barrier to employees' taking charge.



This work was supported by the Incheon National University Research Grant in 2022.


Kim, S.L., Yun, S. and Cheong, M. (2023), "Empowering and directive leadership and taking charge: a moderating role of employee intrinsic motivation", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 38 No. 6, pp. 389-403.



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