A selection of interesting research and articles we found recently.

Do different leadership paradigms affect employee engagement?
Yes, according to Tanyu Zhang and his ISL colleagues, who investigated whether the direct supervisor’s leadership style affects employee engagement. Leadership style was assessed using Avery’s classical, transactional, visionary, and organic leadership paradigms as the theoretical framework, thereby expanding the scope of styles typically studied.

Data from 432 sales assistants in Sydney, Australia, showed that visionary and organic paradigms enhance employee engagement, whereas classical and transactional styles negatively affect employee engagement. The findings suggest that direct supervisors should be encouraged to use visionary and/or organic leadership wherever possible to drive employee engagement.

Read more about this study at: Zhang, T., Avery, G.C., Bergsteiner, H., and More, E. 2014. The relationship between leadership paradigms and employee engagement. Journal of Global Responsibility, 5(1), 4-21.


Followers differences affect leadership and employee engagement
Given that most research focuses on leaders and ignores the influence of follower characteristics on either leadership or engagement, Tanyu Zhang and his colleagues from ISL investigated whether employee characteristics moderate the relationship between perceived leadership styles and employee engagement. Questionnaire data from 432 retail assistants confirmed that three employee characteristics moderate the relationship between Avery’s four leadership paradigms and employee engagement. The employee characteristics studied were: employee need for achievement, equity sensitivity and need for clarity. However, the nature of the moderation varied in complex ways.

Full details are available in the paper: Zhang, T., Avery, G.C., Bergsteiner, H., & More, E. 2014. Do follower characteristics moderate leadership and employee engagement? Journal of Global Responsibility, 5(2), 269-288.


Does servant leadership affect employee engagement?
Yes, according to research by Danon Carter and Timothy Baghurst, who investigated the restaurant business. According to these authors, servant leadership addresses the concerns of ethics, customer experience and employee engagement while creating a unique organizational culture in which both leaders and followers unite to reach organizational goals without positional or authoritative power. The study qualitatively explored the perspectives of 11 employees from a servant leadership led restaurant, who took part in two focus groups. Several themes emerged including servant leader experience, servant leader traits, the impact of servant leadership, the application of servant leadership, and limited employee attrition. Themes revealed servant leadership positively influences employee engagement while contributing to employee loyalty to the workplace. Based on the servant leader experience, participants were more committed, built healthy work relationships, and actively participated in achieving organizational goals.

Read more at: Carter, D. and Baghurst, T. The influence of servant leadership on restaurant employee engagement. Journal of Business Ethics, 2014, 124(3), 453-464.


Is meaningful work a human need?
It is according to Ruth Yeoman, who argues for meaningful work to be understood as a fundamental human need that each person requires to satisfy his or her interests in freedom, autonomy, and dignity. Adopting a liberal perfectionist framework, Yeoman developed a normative justification for making meaningful work the object of political action. She used Susan Wolf’s (2010) distinct value of meaningfulness that brings the dimensions of objectivity and subjectivity into the ‘bipartite value’ of meaningfulness (BVM).

Under this view, people must become co-creators of values and meanings to incorporate the BVM into their lives. The consequence is that as many people as possible should be able to experience their work as meaningful through the development of the relevant capabilities.

Read more in Ruth Yeoman’s (2014) article: Conceptualising meaningful work as a fundamental human need, Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 235-251.