Employee work passion : leadership behaviour, employee affect and work intentions

  • Richard Egan

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    In response to the evolving dynamics of the workplace in 21st century organisations, organisational leaders have attempted to harness the emerging concept of employee engagement as a competitive business strategy. However, the development of a precise definition of the employee engagement construct, a theoretical framework that explains its formation and a valid and reliable process by which to measure the concept has lagged behind its uptake in organisational practice. To respond to this situation, a model based on social cognitive theory that explains the formation of a construct related to employee engagement termed “employee work passion” has been proposed. The conceptual foundation of employee work passion is that the work experience of employees is shaped by cognitive perceptions and affective inferences stemming from ongoing appraisals of various organisational, job and interpersonal factors in the work environment. Research on employee work passion is evolving. However, the role that antecedents play in its formation remains unclear. Prior to this study, research on employee work passion using organisational samples in countries other than the United States of America had not been conducted. Research over many decades in numerous organisational contexts has demonstrated that leadership behaviour and the individual values of leaders have significant effects on leader-follower relationships and on a range of positive organisational outcomes. However, little research attention has been given to the roles that leadership behaviour and leader values play in the formation of employee work passion. This study tested the hypothesis that employee cognitive perceptions of leadership behaviour and leader values are linked to employee emotional states or employee affect, which, in turn, predict employee behavioural intentions that are indicative of employees who are passionate about their work. An internet-based self-report questionnaire survey was administered to all employees, representing multiple organisational levels, within three medium-sized Australian private sector organisations. The data was subjected to empirical scrutiny, in particular, multivariate analysis. The results of structural equation modelling indicated significant and meaningful relationships among a majority of the variables in the study’s hypothesised model. The study’s major findings follow. First, cognition and affect are inextricably linked in the individual’s appraisal of his/her leader’s behaviour. Second, the affective aspect of an employee’s appraisal of his/her leader’s behaviour is central to shaping an employee’s subsequent behavioural intentions. This finding was particularly true for work environments where an employee perceived his/her leader to use supportive leadership behaviours or demonstrated other-focussed values or displayed self-focussed values. Third, employee positive affect was found to be a stronger predictor of employee work intentions than was employee negative affect. Fourth, this study confirmed the conceptual validity of the employee work passion appraisal process in an Australian organisational context. Implications for theory and practice and recommendations for future research complete this study.
    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMark Turner (Supervisor), Deborah Blackman (Supervisor) & Alice Richardson (Supervisor)

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