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The effects of leader–subordinate power distance orientation congruence on employees' taking charge behaviors in China: a moderated mediation model

Yan Bao (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Ping Han (Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China)
Shudi Liao (Business School, Hubei University, Wuhan, China) (Hubei Center for Studies of Human Capital Development Strategy and Policy, and Key Research Base of Humanities and Social Science of Hubei Province, Wuhan, China)
Jianqiao Liao (Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 29 January 2021

Issue publication date: 20 April 2021




Based on the social exchange theory, this study explores the mechanism of leader–subordinate power distance orientation (PDO) congruence with employees' taking charge behavior (TCB) and also verifies the moderated mediation effect of employees' promotion regulatory focus (PROM-F) on leader–subordinate PDO congruence and on employees' TCB through trust in the leader (which is the mediator).


Based on 296 questionnaires from 46 teams of Chinese enterprises, the authors use cross-level polynomial regressions and response surface techniques to analyze the effect of leader–subordinate PDO congruence on employees' TCB and use the block variable technique to test the mediating effect of trust in the leader.


(1) When leader–subordinates' PDO is congruent, the leader–subordinate low-low PDO matching pattern leads to more employees' TCB than the leader–subordinate high-high PDO matching pattern. (2) When leader–subordinate PDO is incongruent, the leader–subordinate low–high PDO matching pattern will lead to more TCB than the high-low PDO pattern.

Practical implications

(1) Encourage and promote the development of diverse cultures in enterprises. (2) Respect the power and status of employees and encourage a low-PDO leadership style. (3) Increase credibility by developing and establishing a good corporate leader image.


(1) The unique background of this survey offers important cross-cultural information on the effects of leader–subordinate PDO congruence. (2) The results of this research enrich the theoretical understanding of the factors that influence TCB. (3) Reveal the internal mechanisms of CPD congruence with TCB and demonstrate an indirect effect of trust in leader. (4) The discussion of the moderating role of employee's PROM-F will also deepen the understanding of the exchange relationship between leaders and subordinates.



Funding: This work was funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of Shanxi Province (Grant No.2020JQ-078); The Fundamental Research for the Central Universities (Grant No.SK2020035); National Natural Science Foundation Key Program of China (Grant N0.71671137); Young Scientists Fund of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant No. 71802073).


Bao, Y., Han, P., Liao, S. and Liao, J. (2021), "The effects of leader–subordinate power distance orientation congruence on employees' taking charge behaviors in China: a moderated mediation model", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 42 No. 3, pp. 370-395.



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