Original Research

Beneficiary contact moderates relationship between authentic leadership and engagement

Caren B. Scheepers, Sarah L. Elstob
SA Journal of Human Resource Management | Vol 14, No 1 | a758 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajhrm.v14i1.758 | © 2016 Caren B. Scheepers, Sarah L. Elstob | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 October 2015 | Published: 29 July 2016

About the author(s)

Caren B. Scheepers, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa
Sarah L. Elstob, Gordon Institute of Business Science, University of Pretoria, South Africa


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Abstract

Orientation: Beneficiary contact moderates the relationship between authentic leadership and work engagement.

Research purpose: The objective of this study was to examine the moderating effect of the breadth, depth and frequency of employee interaction with the beneficiaries of their work on the positive impact of authentic leadership on work engagement.

Motivation for the study: Investigating the boundary conditions of the relationship between leaders and followers is vital to enhance the positive effect of leadership. Authentic leadership has not previously been examined with respect to beneficiary contact as a specific situational factor. The researchers therefore set out to ascertain whether beneficiary contact has a strengthening or weakening effect on the impact of authentic leadership on work engagement.

Research design, approach and method: The researchers administered the Authentic Leadership Questionnaire (ALQ), the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES-9) and Grant’s scale on Beneficiary Contact.

Main findings: The findings showed that beneficiary contact had a weakening effect on the positive relationship between authentic leadership and work engagement.

Practical/managerial implications: Ideally, organisations create environments conducive to work engagement in which leadership plays an important role. This study found that one factor in the work environment, namely beneficiary contact, might have an adverse effect on the positive relationship that authentic leadership has on work engagement. Leaders should therefore take organisational contextual realities into account, such as regular, intense interaction of employees with the beneficiaries of their work. This situation could create strain for individual employees, requiring additional organisational support.

Contribution/value-add: Organisations need to recognise the impact of beneficiary contact on the relationship between authentic leadership and work engagement. The researchers propose further studies on the influence of contextual variables on the relationship between leaders and followers.


Keywords

Authentic Leadership; Work Engagement; Beneficiary Contact; Moderating variable

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