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How does ethical leadership influence work engagement in project-based organizations? A sensemaking perspective

Jiajia Cheng (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China)
Lianying Zhang (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)
Mingming He (School of Economics and Management, Nanjing Tech University, Nanjing, China)
Yingying Yao (College of Management and Economics, Tianjin University, Tianjin, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 12 April 2024

Issue publication date: 27 May 2024

279

Abstract

Purpose

Project-based organizations (PBOs) face challenges to enhance employee work engagement because of dynamic and constant role configuration. Accordingly, this study aims to explore how ethical leadership enhances employee work engagement from a sensemaking perspective.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used a questionnaire-based quantitative research design to collect data from 194 full-time employees in PBOs. The data were analyzed via partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) technique to test hypotheses.

Findings

The findings show a positive relationship between ethical leadership and work engagement. Additionally, the relationship between ethical leadership and work engagement is mediated by two sensemaking mechanisms, i.e. goal commitment and prosocial.

Originality/value

This study deepens the understanding of how ethical leadership enhances work engagement in PBOs by providing two sensemaking mechanisms. By exploring the sensemaking process through which ethical leaders help employees construct identity, the findings contribute to the current literature on how ethical leadership enhances work engagement in PBOs.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

Funding: This study was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC, Project NO. 72271180).

Citation

Cheng, J., Zhang, L., He, M. and Yao, Y. (2024), "How does ethical leadership influence work engagement in project-based organizations? A sensemaking perspective", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 45 No. 4, pp. 683-701. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-03-2023-0139

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2024, Emerald Publishing Limited

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