Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Toward a Better Understanding of the Relationship between Transformational Leadership, Public Service Motivation, Mission Valence, and Employee Performance: A Preliminary Study

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Toward a Better Understanding of the Relationship between Transformational Leadership, Public Service Motivation, Mission Valence, and Employee Performance: A Preliminary Study

Article excerpt

Organizations have long sought ways to improve the performance of workers. To assist, scholars have developed and tested theories to predict performance in work environments. While there is much variation among these scholarly theories, the consensus is that leadership practices are vital and that they can improve the performance of workers by taking advantage of the right mix of motivators.

Concerning transformational leadership (the most often studied leadership practice), scholars view it as having a direct, positive impact on the performance of workers (Bass, Jung, Avolio, & Berson, 2003; Howell & Avolio, 1993; Lowe, Kroeck, & Sivasubramaniam, 1996; Waldman, Bass, & Einstein, 1987; Walumbwa, Avolio, & Zhu, 2008). Research also indicates that it has an indirect influence on performance through such factors as efficacy (Walumbwa et al., 2008; Walumbwa & Hartnell, 2011), affective commitment (Barling, Weber, & Kelloway, 1996), beneficiary contact (Grant, 2012), support for innovation (Howell & Avolio, 1993), and optimism (McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002).

Although transformational leadership's impact on individual performance has been often studied, there are two motivators (i.e., public service motivation [PSM] and mission valence) that might also interact with this leadership practice to influence individual performance. For instance, transformational leadership, PSM, and mission valence are all rooted in the motivational influence of organizational goals (Wright, Moynihan, & Pandey, 2012) and goal setting theory suggests that such goals can induce performance (Locke & Latham, 2002). Despite this, we know little about the interaction between transformational leadership and both PSM and mission valence. Park and Rainey (2008), for instance, examined the relationship between transformational leadership and PSM and found that PSM moderated the relationship between transformational leadership and performance. Although informative, the study was limited in that the authors used indirect measures of transformational leadership and PSM. Next, Wright et al. (2012) examined the relationship between transformational leadership, PSM, and mission valence and found that transformational leadership had an impact on mission valence through PSM. Furthermore, mediation was investigated and mission valence was the dependent variable. Therefore, no study to date was found to examine the direct, moderating impact of either PSM or mission valence on the relationship between transformational leadership and performance.

The present study aims to close that lacuna in the literature by examining the aforementioned moderating effects on the transformational leadership-performance relationship. First, the extant of literature is reviewed concerning transformational leadership, PSM, mission valence, and employee performance. Hypotheses are then derived from the literature. Next is the method section, which explains the survey administration and the variables included in the model. Last are the results of the model, followed by the discussion and conclusion.

Review of Literature

Transformational Leadership

James Bums (1978), a political scientist, was the first to conceptualize transformational and transactional leadership, while chronicling the traits of world leaders. In 1985, Bass extended Burns's conceptualization by operationalizing transformational leadership. Nowadays transformational leadership is presumed to be comprised of four dimensions or components. The first component is idealized influence and it occurs when leaders emphasize a collective vision and earn respect and trust from employees through their actions. Second, inspirational motivation is when leaders establish high expectations, thus providing challenge and meaning to employee roles and responsibilities. Third, individualized consideration is when leaders provide special attention to each employee's need (especially the need for achievement) by serving as a mentor or coach. …

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