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Leadership and its influence on employee absenteeism: a qualitative review

Ann-Kristina Løkke (Department of Management, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Article publication date: 11 March 2022

Issue publication date: 10 November 2022




The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the last 50 years of empirical research on leaders' influence on employee absenteeism. Furthermore, the aim is to direct future management research by identifying what is still undiscovered regarding areas such as leadership concepts, measurements of absenteeism, methodology and country-specific contexts of the studies.


This is a qualitative review which is suitable as the literature on leadership and employee absenteeism is still emergent and characterized by heterogeneity in terms of operationalization of absenteeism and leadership concepts, respectively, as well as types of analyses.


This review identifies different aspects of leadership affecting employee absence, i.e. leadership behaviours (i.e. task, relational, change, passive), leadership styles, leaders' social modelling and attitudes, and leaders' management of health and absence. Furthermore, a number of gaps in extant research are identified as well as a research agenda is provided.


This review is the first of its kind and hence contributes more profound insights into leaders' influence on employee absenteeism. Leaders as a factor explaining employee absenteeism have only played a minor role, in large theoretical contributions, and the exact behaviour and style is not elaborated much in the literature. Thus, this paper provides practical and theoretical considerations over the role of leaders in shaping employee absenteeism.



Løkke, A.-K. (2022), "Leadership and its influence on employee absenteeism: a qualitative review", Management Decision, Vol. 60 No. 11, pp. 2990-3018.



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