A MULTILEVEL INVESTIGATION OF LEADER EMPOWERING BEHAVIORS: INTEGRATING THE JOB DEMANDS-CONTROL MODEL AND TRANSACTIVE MEMORY SYSTEM THEORY
Bartol, Kathryn M
Empowering leader behaviors have been generally suggested to motivate employees and facilitate their goal achievement, but they can also be challenging and demanding. Yet questions regarding why employees may feel challenged and even concerned when empowered and how leaders can reduce such unfavorable reactions have been largely ignored in the literature. To examine the multifaceted impacts of empowering leadership and, at the same time, consider how the empowerment climate created by the leader at the team level may help facilitate the individual-level leadership processes, this research integrates the job demands-control (JD-C) model and the transactive memory system (TMS) literature to advance and test a model of the impacts of leader empowering behaviors on individuals and teams, as well as interrelationships of the multilevel dynamics. Applying the JD-C model, I propose that empowering leadership can provide team members with learning opportunities but also generate perceptions of role overload, which then influence, in opposite directions, their engagement and performance. Further incorporating the TMS literature, I propose that by creating an empowerment climate, leaders can help foster the development of TMS within the team. TMS will, in turn, benefit team performance as well as produce a positive cross-level influence on individual team members. Using survey data from 74 research and development teams in 14 high-technology companies in China, hierarchical linear modeling and hierarchical regression analyses provided overall support for the model. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed in this dissertation.