Motiv Emot DOI 10. 1007/s11031-012-9336-z ORIGINAL PAPER Self-determination at work: Understanding the role of leader-member exchange Laura M. Graves • Margaret M. Luciano O Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012 Abstract Integrating self-determination theory (SDT) and leader-member exchange (LMX) theory, we explore the role of the leader in facilitating employee self-determination. We test a model of the linkages between employees’ leadermember exchanges, psychological need satisfaction (i. e. satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs), autonomous motivation, and attitudinal outcomes. We posit that high-quality leader-member exchanges facilitate satisfaction of employees’ fundamental psychological needs, which, in turn, enhance autonomous motivation and outcomes. Results for 283 working professionals supported this notion. Structural equation modeling indicated that the employee’s perception of the quality of the LMX was positively related to satisfaction of the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness.
Satisfaction of competence and autonomy needs was positively related to autonomous motivation, which, in turn, was associated with higher levels of job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment, and subjective vitality. Our ? ndings accentuate the role of leader-employee relationships in creating self-determination at work, and reinforce the importance of self-determination for employee attitudes and well-being. Limitations, implications, and directions for future research are discussed. Keywords Self-determination theory A Leader-member exchange A Need satisfaction A Motivation
Introduction Although the concept of self-determination is certainly not new (e. g. , Deci and Ryan 1985), organizational scholars have recently begun to emphasize its importance for opti? mal employee functioning and well-being at work (Gagne and Deci 2005; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). Selfdetermination refers to self- (vs. other-) caused action (Wehmeyer et al. 2009). Self-determined individuals are ‘‘authors’’ of their own behaviors; they experience their actions as volitional, intentional, and self-initiated. Self-determination theory (SDT) (Deci and Ryan 1985, ? 000; Gagne and Deci 2005; Ryan and Deci 2000, 2002) is arguably the most widely-recognized framework for understanding the dynamics of self-determination at work. ? SDT (Deci and Ryan 1985, 2000; Gagne and Deci 2005; Ryan and Deci 2000) outlines the conditions and processes that facilitate self-determined behavior. Recent work on self-determination in the workplace stresses the importance of psychological need satisfaction and autonomous moti? vation for self-determination (Gagne and Deci 2005; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). Need satisfaction refers to the satisfaction of the indi? idual’s basic psychological needs (Gagne and Deci 2005; Ryan and Deci 2002). Basic psychological needs are viewed as universal and essential for optimal human functioning (Deci and Ryan 2000). They consist of the needs for competence (effectance), autonomy (a sense of volition), and relatedness (connection). Autonomous motivation is posited to be a key mechanism by which need satisfaction in? uences employees’ L. M. Graves (&) Graduate School of Management, Clark University, 950 Main St. , Worcester, MA 01610, USA e-mail: [email protected] edu M. M.
Luciano Department of Management, School of Business, University of Connecticut, 2100 Hillside Rd. Unit 1041, Storrs, CT 06269-1041, USA e-mail: [email protected] uconn. edu 123 Motiv Emot ? outcomes (Gagne and Deci 2005; Milyavskaya and Koestner 2011). Autonomous motivation is a form of motivation or self-regulation in which individuals act from their deep values, goals and interests. Autonomously motivated individuals pursue actions that are concordant or consistent with the underlying self; their behaviors are experienced as selfdetermined (Ryan and Deci 2000; Sheldon and Elliot 1998, 1999).
Recent applications of SDT to the workplace link ? need satisfaction (Baard et al. 2004; Deci et al. 2001; Gagne 2003; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a) and autonomous motivation (e. g. , Bono and Judge 2003; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer et al. 2002) to employee functioning and well-being. The self-determination literature recognizes the role of the leader or manager in creating an environment that enables employees to experience feelings of need satis? faction and autonomous motivation (Gagne and Deci 2005). In particular, SDT scholars have demonstrated the bene? cial effects of leaders’ autonomy-supportive behaviors (e. . , giving employees some choice of assignments, encouraging initiative, informational feedback) for facilitating these feelings (e. g. , Baard et al. 2004; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer et al. 2002). We build on this research by considering the impact of the quality of the relationship between the leader and the employee in the self-determination process. During the past 30 years, leadership researchers have highlighted the importance of employees’ relationships with their immediate managers for employee success and well-being (e. g. , Gerstner and Day 1997; Ilies et al. 2007; Rhoades and Eisenberger 2002).
We believe the leader-employee relationship is likely to play a key role in employee need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Thus, our purpose is to examine the role of the leaderemployee relationship in facilitating employees’ need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. We look to leadership theory, especially work on leader-member exchange (LMX) theory (Graen and Scandura 1987; Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995; Liden et al. 1997), to better understand the impact of these relationships in the process of selfdetermination. Leader-member exchange theory (Graen and Scandura 1987; Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995; Liden et al. 997) has been especially in? uential in shaping research on the effects of leaders on individual employees; its central focus is the interactions between leaders and their followers. According to the theory, the leader develops a distinct relationship with each member of the work unit (Graen and Scandura 1987; Liden et al. 2006). Leader-member relationships or exchanges vary along a continuum from low-quality to high-quality (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). Low-quality relationships are based on impersonal, contractual interactions. High-quality relationships are characterized by mutual trust, respect, and obligation (Graen et al. 006; Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995; Liden and Graen 1980). A key premise of LMX theory is that high-quality exchanges between leaders and employees bene? t employees, leaders, and organizations (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995; Liden et al. 1993). A substantial body of research documents the bene? cial effects of high-quality exchanges on employees’ organizational commitment, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviors, and task performance (e. g. , Dulebohn et al. 2012; Erdogan and Liden 2002; Gerstner and Day 1997; Ilies et al. 2007; Liden et al. 1997; Wayne et al. 1997).
In the present study, we test the idea that LMX is an important factor in evoking need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. We focus especially on the employee’s view of the leader-member relationship. Employees actively interpret the meaning of leaders’ behaviors and develop their own construals of their relationships with leaders (Eisenberger et al. 2002; Rhoades and Eisenberger 2002). Employees’ construals of the leader-member exchange are conceptually distinct from leaders’ construals and may be differentially related to employee outcomes (Gerstner and Day 1997; Joseph et al. 2011; Sin et al. 2009).
We concentrate on employees’ personal interpretations because we believe these interpretations are most likely to directly in? uence employees’ internal motivational mechanisms (i. e. , need satisfaction, autonomous motivation) and outcomes. In developing our theoretical model of the processes by which the employee’s perception of the quality of the leader-employee relationship in? uences the employee’s work outcomes, we draw on selfdetermination and leader-member exchange theories. In the sections that follow, we provide background on selfdetermination theory, present our theoretical model, and describe the study.
Self-determination theory SDT (Deci and Ryan 1985, 2000; Ryan and Deci 2002) posits that individuals have active, innate tendencies toward personal growth and development; they seek to create a uni? ed sense of self, maximize their potential, and integrate themselves into larger social structures (e. g. , groups, organizations). Furthermore, SDT emphasizes the importance of psychological need satisfaction and autonomous motivation in this process of growth and development. Psychological needs are innate, human necessities that must be satis? ed to ensure effective performance and well-being at work and in other life domains (e. . , family, friends, sports) (Deci and Ryan 2000; Milyavskaya and Koestner 2011; Ryan and Deci 2000; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). The theory focuses on three basic psychological needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The need for competence is the deep desire to feel capable and effective—to in? uence one’s environment and 123 Motiv Emot obtain valued outcomes within it (Deci and Ryan 2000). Satisfaction of the need for competence occurs when the individual understands how to achieve desired outcomes and is effective at performing the actions necessary to accomplish them (Baard et al. 004; Deci et al. 1991; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). In work settings, employees who feel competent believe that they can master challenges, achieve goals, develop new skills, and adapt to changing environments (Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). The need for autonomy involves viewing oneself as the initiator of one’s own actions or acting with a sense of freedom of choice. The key factor in autonomy is not simply whether an individual independently chooses an action, but the extent to which he/she endorses the action as his or her own (Deci and Ryan 2000; Van den Broeck et al. 008a). Individuals may ‘‘own’’ actions initiated by others if they ? nd meaning, interest, or pleasure in these actions. Thus, autonomy needs are satis? ed when employees are able to choose their tasks or fully ‘‘own’’ tasks assigned by others (Baard et al. 2004; Van den Broeck et al. 2008b). The need for relatedness is the fundamental desire for close ties with others. This need is satis? ed by the presence of secure and satisfying interpersonal connections. Such connections are characterized by reciprocal respect, caring, and reliance (Deci et al. 991, 2001; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). For employees, feeling that one is closely af? liated with the leader, group or organization, and can share one’s joys and problems facilitates satisfaction of relatedness needs (Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). SDT focuses on the degree to which needs are satis? ed, rather than individual differences in need strength (Deci and Ryan 2000). Recently, SDT scholars have stressed the importance of satisfaction of all three psychological needs both within and across various life domains (Milyavskaya et al. 2009; Perreault et al. 007; Sheldon and Niemiec 2006). They have also noted that low need satisfaction is not synonymous with need thwarting, which involves the feeling that others are actively undermining one’s autonomy (e. g. , being prevented from making choices), competence (e. g. , being told that one is incompetent), or relatedness (e. g. , being dismissed by others) (Bartholomew et al. 2010, 2011a, b). The SDT literature implies that autonomous or selfdetermined motivation is a key mechanism by which satisfaction of the three needs in? uences individuals’ out? omes (Gagne and Deci 2005; Milyavskaya and Koestner 2011; Ryan and Deci 2000). As noted earlier, autonomous motivation involves pursuing actions that are concordant or consistent with the underlying self; actions emerge from the individual’s deep values, goals, and interests, and are ? experienced as voluntary (Gagne and Deci 2005; Ryan and Deci 2000; Sheldon and Elliot 1998, 1999). Autonomous motivation includes both intrinsic motivation and identi? ed motivation. The concept of intrinsic motivation is widely understood; it involves engaging in an activity because one ? ds it inherently interesting and/or enjoyable. Identi? ed motivation involves pursuing an activity because it is con? gruent with one’s identity, goals, or values (Gagne and Deci 2005). The self-consistent nature of autonomous motivation leads individuals to persist with activities, enhances their performance, and facilitates their physical and psychological health (Deci and Ryan 2000; Judge et al. 2005). Self-determination theory suggests that need satisfaction and autonomous motivation in a particular domain are in? uenced by the social context (e. g. , leadership, rewards, ? ob design) (Deci and Ryan 2000; Gagne and Deci 2005; Vallerand and Ratelle 2002). Contexts that validate the individual’s true self (e. g. , potentials, values, and interests) are particularly likely to facilitate need ful? llment and encourage autonomous motivation (Deci and Ryan 2000; Sheldon and Elliot 1999; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). In the work domain, leadership may be especially important in creating a context that validates the self and facilitates need satisfaction and autonomous motivation (Baard et al. ? ? 2004; Deci and Ryan 2000; Gagne 2003; Gagne and Deci 2005; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a).
Prior research has found that autonomous motivation is more likely to occur when leaders possess an autonomy-supportive leadership style that includes behaviors such as listening to employees’ perspectives, providing employees with some choice of tasks, giving informational feedback, and encouraging initiative (e. g. , Baard et al. 2004; Richer et al. 2002; Van den Broeck et al. 2008b). Though unexplored, the quality of the leader-member exchange is likely to be important in creating a supportive context that facilitates need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. We expand on this idea further in our discussion of our theoretical model.
Hypothesized model Our model, shown in Fig. 1, includes LMX, the need satisfaction variables, autonomous motivation, and outcomes. As noted earlier, we focus speci? cally on employees’ construals of their relationships with leaders. We distinguish between the three different types of need satisfaction—competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Although researchers often combine the three types of need satisfaction into a single construct (e. g. , Baard et al. 2004; Vansteenkiste et al. 2007), we treat them as separate constructs to better understand their relationships with the other variables in our model.
This is consistent with recent research delineating the factor structure of the need satisfaction construct (Van den Broeck et al. 2010), as well as theory suggesting that the three types of need satisfaction may not have identical consequences (Deci and Ryan 2000). 123 Motiv Emot Fig. 1 Hypothesized model. Note All effects shown in the ? gure were expected to be positive. The direct effects of competence, autonomy, relatedness, and LMX on outcomes were also tested; no hypotheses were offered about these effects Hypothesized Model LeaderMember Exchange Competence Vitality Autonomy
Autonomous Motivation Job Satisfaction Relatedness Affective Organizational Commitment We envision autonomous motivation as a second-order construct, consisting of the lower-order constructs of identi? ed and intrinsic motivation. This conceptualization of autonomous motivation as comprised of identi? ed and intrinsic motivation is consistent with recent applications of SDT in the workplace (e. g. , Bono and Judge 2003; ? Gagne et al. 2010; Otis and Pelletier 2005). Three outcomes, affective organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and subjective vitality, are included in the model.
Affective organizational commitment and job satisfaction are important work attitudes that serve as indicators of the strength of the employee-organizational relationship. Affective organizational commitment is the extent to which the employee is emotionally attached to and identi? es with the organization (Meyer and Allen 1991). Affective commitment differs from normative (i. e. , perceived obligation to remain with organization) and continuance (i. e. , perceived cost of leaving) commitment. We assess affective commitment because it is most likely to be ? inked to autonomous motivation (Gagne et al. 2008, 2010). In contrast, normative and continuance commitment appear to be more strongly aligned with acting as a result of inner pressures (e. g. , obligation, guilt) or external factors (e. g. , rewards, costs). Job satisfaction refers to the employee’s overall affective evaluation of his/her job (Spector 1997). Subjective vitality has been studied in the self-determination theory literature and is an indicator of physical and psychological well-being (Ryan and Frederick 1997).
It refers to positive feelings of aliveness and energy at work. Our main contribution to the literature is our focus on the role of LMX in facilitating employee outcomes through need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Our model is fairly unique in including both need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Despite the presumed importance of need satisfaction for autonomous motivation (Deci and ? Ryan 2000; Gagne and Deci 2005), only a few studies of self-determination at work have assessed both of these factors (e. g. , Lynch et al. 2005; Richer et al. 002; Van den Broeck et al. 2010). We posit that the employee’s perception of LMX is positively related to satisfaction of the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Satisfaction of these needs is presumed to enhance autonomous motivation, which, in turn, facilitates outcomes (see Fig. 1). Although our primary interest is in the effects of LMX on outcomes through both the need satisfaction variables and autonomous motivation (i. e. , LMX-need satisfaction-autonomous motivation-outcomes), we recognize that the need satisfaction variables may be directly related to outcomes.
Further, we acknowledge that LMX may be directly linked to all three outcomes. The theoretical rationale for the LMX-need satisfactionautonomous motivation-outcomes chain of effects is discussed in detail below. The direct effects of LMX (e. g. , Gerstner and Day 1997; Ilies et al. 2007) and need satisfaction (Baard et al. 2004; Deci et al. 2001; Gregarus and Diefendorff 2009; Vansteenkiste et al. 2007) on outcomes have received substantial attention in the literature; we therefore discuss these effects brie? y and do not offer hypotheses about them.
Effects of LMX on competence, autonomy, and relatedness We expect LMX to be positively related to satisfaction of the three psychological needs. As noted earlier, the SDT literature suggests that supportive leadership (e. g. , giving employees some choice of assignments, acknowledging employees’ feelings about tasks, encouraging initiative, providing positive feedback) is important in facilitating ? ? need ful? llment (Baard et al. 2004; Gagne 2003; Gagne and Deci 2005; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer and Vallerand 1995; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a).
Moreover, LMX researchers (i. e. , Chen et al. 2007; Liden et al. 2000) have recently theorized that LMX facilitates feelings of meaning, positive impact, competence, and choice at work— feelings that partially overlap with the basic needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Building on this work, we posit that satisfaction of employees’ competence, autonomy, and relatedness needs will vary as a function of their perceptions of the quality of 123 Motiv Emot the leader-member exchange. We expect low-quality exchanges to be associated with lower levels of need ful? llment.
Low-quality exchanges are economic or contractual exchanges in which the parties complete only the tasks required by their jobs (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). Leaders provide employees with no more than the resources needed to perform, and employees ful? ll only basic job requirements. As employees only complete required tasks, lowquality exchanges are unlikely to provide the optimal challenges and skill development opportunities necessary to ful? ll competence needs. Nor will a low-quality exchange provide the sense of personal choice or volition required for satisfaction of the need for autonomy.
The employee is unlikely to identify with the detached leader and will not personally ‘‘own’’ tasks assigned by that leader. Furthermore, the contractual nature of the relationship offers the employee little opportunity for developing close ties with the leader. Thus, the need for relatedness is unlikely to be satis? ed by the relationship (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). In contrast, employees who report high-quality exchanges are likely to experience satisfaction of the three needs. High quality exchanges are characterized by mutual respect, trust, and obligation between the leader and follower, as well as reciprocal in? ence, support, and resource-sharing (Graen et al. 2006; Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). High-quality exchanges begin when employees’ initial competence and performance induces leaders to delegate additional responsibility to them (Bauer and Green 1996). When good performance ensues, a cycle of increased leader delegation and enhanced employee performance may be established and a high-quality exchange may result. Such exchanges are partnerships characterized by ‘‘in-kind’’ social exchange processes (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). The leader and employee may exchange both task (e. g. , task-speci? c information or effort) and social resources (e. . , support, friendship, liking, loyalty, professional respect) (Liden and Maslyn 1998; Maslyn and Uhl-Bien 2001). In a high-quality exchange, the employee works closely with the leader, and receives encouragement, support, information, and opportunities for career development and advancement. Additionally, the employee has the opportunity to work independently, make meaningful decisions, take on varied and challenging job assignments, and provide constructive feedback to the leader (Erdogan and Enders 2007; Henderson et al. 2008). Employees may also have access to the leader’s social network, acilitating the development of social ties with colleagues (Sparrowe and Liden 2005). Overall, these opportunities and bene? ts are likely to facilitate the development of employees’ capabilities (i. e. , need for competence), increase their sense of personal choice and volition (i. e. , need for autonomy), and create a sense of being valued by and connected to the leader and organization (i. e. , need for relatedness). Therefore, we posit: Hypothesis 1a tence. Hypothesis 1b omy. Hypothesis 1c ness. LMX will be positively related to compeLMX will be positively related to autonLMX will be positively related to related-
Effects of competence, autonomy, and relatedness on autonomous motivation We believe that the need satisfaction variables will be positively related to autonomous motivation. As noted earlier, SDT suggests that satisfaction of the three psychological needs is necessary for growth and development at work and facilitates autonomous motivation (Deci and ? Ryan 2000; Gagne and Deci 2005). Moreover, some recent studies have linked need satisfaction to autonomous moti? vation among employees (Gagne et al. 2010; Richer et al. 2002; Van den Broeck et al. 2010).
Generally, feelings of competence, autonomy, and relatedness encourage autonomous motivation by allowing employees to act from the underlying self (Deci and Ryan ? 2000; Gagne and Deci 2005). However, the three types of need satisfaction may work in slightly different ways (e. g. , Deci and Ryan 2000; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). Satisfaction of the need for competence is important for all forms of motivation and autonomous motivation is no exception (Deci and Ryan 2000). Employees are not motivated unless they feel personally ef? cacious and believe that their skills and abilities will permit them to achieve the desired outcomes.
Satisfaction of autonomy needs is also critical. Autonomous motivation requires individuals to view their actions as personally initiated and endorsed; they cannot pursue their deep interests, values, and goals unless they view themselves as the origins of their actions (Deci and Ryan 2000; Sheldon and Elliot 1998, 1999). The sense of volition that de? nes the need for autonomy is a fundamental precursor of autonomous motivation because it allows employees to feel that their behaviors emanate from the self (Deci and Ryan 2000; Ryan and Deci 2001).
Satisfaction of relatedness needs may provide employees with a sense of being accepted that validates the underlying self and gives them license to pursue their deep interests, values, and goals (Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). Although relatedness may not be absolutely critical for autonomous motivation, the sense of security and acceptance it provides is likely to increase the extent to which employees feel free to ‘‘be true to themselves’’ (Deci and Ryan 2000; Ryan and Deci 2002). 123 Motiv Emot
As presented above, we anticipate each of the three psychological needs will be positively related to autonomous motivation. Speci? cally we posit: Hypothesis 2a Competence will be positively related to autonomous motivation. Hypothesis 2b Autonomy will be positively related to autonomous motivation. Hypothesis 2c Relatedness will be positively related to autonomous motivation. Effects of autonomous motivation on outcomes We expect autonomous motivation to be positively related to subjective vitality, job satisfaction, and affective organizational commitment.
The self-consistent nature of autonomously motivated activities is likely to create a sense of genuineness; employees will feel ‘‘intensively alive and authentic’’ (Ryan and Deci 2001, p. 146; Sheldon and Elliot 1998, 1999). These feelings of aliveness and authenticity provide employees with a sense of vitality and energy, and increase the extent to which their jobs are truly satisfying (Judge et al. 2005; Ryan and Deci 2001; Ryan and Frederick 1997). Further, employees may be more committed to their organizations because they appreciate having the opportunity to express their true selves.
In addition to bene? cial feelings of authenticity that result from self-consistent activities, autonomous motivation may also evoke positive affect (e. g. , joy, pleasure, interest, excitement, enthusiasm), which, further enhances employees’ outcomes. Employees are likely experience positive affect during and after autonomously motivated activities (Vallerand et al. 2003). Positive affect may subsequently in? uence employees’ cognitions and behavior, ultimately enhancing their job attitudes (Fredrickson 2001; Isen and Baron 1991; Lyubormirsky et al. 005). For instance, positive affect may lead employees to attend to, store, and recall positive (mood-congruent) information, resulting in more positive perceptions of their jobs and organizations (Baron 2008; Erez and Isen 2002; Isen and Baron 1991). It may also enhance employees’ vitality (e. g. , energy) by increasing their ability to cope (e. g. , thinking of alternative ways for resolving problems, stepping back and being more objective) with the inevitable workrelated stressors (Fredrickson and Joiner 2002; Tugade and Fredrickson 2004).
SDT research supports the proposed links between autonomous motivation and subjective vitality, job satisfaction, and affective organizational commitment (e. g. , ? Bono and Judge 2003; Gagne et al. 2008, 2010; Judge et al. 2005; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer et al. 2002; Sheldon and Kasser 1995; Sheldon et al. 1996). Thus, we propose: Hypothesis 3a Autonomous motivation will be positively related to subjective vitality. Hypothesis 3b Autonomous motivation will be positively related to job satisfaction. Hypothesis 3c Autonomous motivation will be positively related to affective organizational commitment.
Other effects Although our primary interest is the successive effects of LMX through the need satisfaction variables and autonomous motivation, we recognize that autonomy, relatedness, and competence may directly in? uence employee outcomes. Prior research has found strong links between employees’ need satisfaction and their job attitudes and well-being (Baard et al. 2004; Deci et al. 2001; Gregarus and Diefendorff 2009; Ilardi et al. 1993; Vansteenkiste et al. 2007). Moreover, recent ? ndings suggest that the bene? ts of need satisfaction may go beyond increases in autonomous motivation (Milyavskaya and Koestner 2011).
For instance, feelings of competence, autonomy, or relatedness may directly boost employees’ feelings of job satisfaction or organizational commitment; employees may value jobs and organizations that allow them to ful? ll their psychological needs. Need satisfaction may also lead to feelings of general well-being that enhance subjective vitality. We also acknowledge that employee outcomes may be directly in? uenced by LMX. As noted earlier, substantial research evidence links high-quality exchanges to enhanced employee attitudes and well-being (e. g. , Dulebohn et al. 2012;
Erdogan and Liden 2002; Gerstner and Day 1997; Liden et al. 1997; Wayne et al. 1997). Compared to employees with low-quality exchanges, those with highquality exchanges are likely to experience special bene? ts such as access to critical information, increased levels of discretion on the job, ? nancial rewards, opportunities for professional growth (e. g. , promotions, special assignments), and the potential for more of the same (Basu and Green 1997; Wayne et al. 1994). These additional bene? ts may lead directly to increases in job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment, and subjective vitality.
Given that our primary focus is on the effects of LMX on outcomes through need satisfaction and autonomous motivation, we do not offer speci? c hypotheses about these effects. Nonetheless, we include them in our model because failure to do so might lead to biased estimates of the effects of interest. 123 Motiv Emot Method Participants and procedure A cover letter and anonymous survey were mailed to the homes of U. S. alumni (1,834) and evening (working) students (170) of a graduate business school at a private university in the northeastern U. S. Twenty-? e of these surveys were undeliverable, an additional 17 were returned with a note saying the individual was deceased, retired, or not working. Three hundred individuals (16. 4 %) returned completed surveys. Seventeen respondents were sole proprietors or top leaders of an organization, yielding a usable sample of 283 participants. Of these 283 participants, 153 (54. 1 %) were male and 130 (45. 9 %) were female. Their average age was 43. 3 (SD = 12. 57). The majority of participants were White (93. 1 %); other participants represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
Participants were employed by for-pro? t (75. 7 %), nonpro? t (18. 2 %) and governmental (6. 1 %) organizations. A large proportion of respondents were employed in executive (23. 9 %), middle management (31. 1 %) or professional roles (32. 5 %). The remainder (13. 5 %) reported that they were technicians or worked in sales, administration, or other functions. On average, they had 20. 9 years of work experience (SD = 12. 53) and had worked for their current organizations for 7. 5 years (SD = 7. 85). Respondents varied in the length of time they had reported to their current manager (X = 2. years; SD = 3. 47; range, . 8–25 years). Our response rate was lower than the anticipated rate for a mailed survey (Baruch and Holton 2008), thereby raising concerns about the generalizability of our ? ndings and the potential for nonresponse bias. There are several possible explanations for our relatively low response rate. First, survey recipients may have held demanding, high-level positions that reduced the time available for survey completion. This explanation is consistent with the fact that about 55 % of our respondents held executive or middlemanagement positions.
It is buttressed by research evidence indicating that highly-placed individuals are less likely to respond to surveys (Cycyota and Harrison 2006; Hambrick et al. 1993, p. 407). Another potential explanation is that nonrespondents held top management or sole proprietor positions that made it impossible for them to answer questions about their leaders. This notion is supported by the fact that 17 of the 300 responses we received were from top leaders or sole proprietors. Of course, it is also possible that nonrespondents simply did not ? nd the survey content to be of interest (Cycyota and Harrison 2006).
Additionally, the timing of the survey may have contributed to reduced interest; we mailed the survey to individuals’ homes in October 2009—a time of economic recession. Given the economic conditions, survey recipients may have been focused on guiding their organizations and preserving their careers. To address concerns about nonresponse bias, we explored the extent to which our ? ndings were susceptible to such bias using archival demographic data (i. e. , gender and age) for the survey recipients; these data were obtained from the university’s alumni affairs of? ce.
Although information on recipient gender was complete, there was some missing data for recipient age (24. 2 % missing). Based on the available data, the demographic breakdown of the survey recipients was as follows: gender (60. 5 % male, 39. 5 % female) and age (M = 44. 58; SD = 11. 20). Because survey responses were anonymous, we could not directly test for differences in the characteristics of respondents and nonrespondents. Instead, we emulated the archival approach for assessing susceptibility to nonresponse bias by comparing the demographic characteristics of survey respondents and survey recipients (i. . , Rogelberg and Luong 1998). We found a small signi? cant difference for gender (v2 (1) = 4. 33, p = . 04); women made up a slightly larger proportion of survey respondents than survey recipients. The test for age differences between survey respondents and recipients was marginally signi? cant (t (1787) = -1. 70, p = . 09). To test whether gender or age differences in participation rates might have been a source of bias, we explored the effects of gender and age on survey responses. We regressed each of the nine scales included in our survey on respondent gender and age. We found two signi? ant effects for gender (i. e. , relatedness and identi? ed motivation; women reported more relatedness and more identi? ed motivation than men) and no signi? cant effects for age. Overall, these analyses suggested that age differences were not a source of nonresponse bias. They also indicated that women were somewhat more likely to selfselect to participate in the study than men, and that gender was related to some of the study variables. However, the gender difference in participation rates was relatively small. Further, as noted below, we controlled for the effects of gender in all of our analyses.
Measures Leader-member exchange We used the seven-item LMX 7 scale (Graen and Scandura 1987) to assess subordinates’ perspectives of the leadermember exchange relationship. Consistent with Furst and Cable’s (2008) variation of the scale, participants responded to the items on 7-point scales ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. A sample item is ‘‘My supervisor understands my job problems and needs. ’’ Coef? cient alpha for the scale was . 92. 123 Motiv Emot Need satisfaction The 21-item Basic Need Satisfaction at Work Scale (University of Rochester, http://www. psych. rochester. du/SDT/ measures/bpns_description. php, retrieved August 1, 2009) was used to assess the degree to which employees’ needs for autonomy (7 items), competence (6 items), and relatedness (8 items) were ful? lled. This scale has been used in motivation research in work settings (e. g. , Deci et al. 2001; Vansteenkiste et al. 2007). A sample item for autonomy is ‘‘I feel like I can make a lot of inputs to deciding how my job gets done. ’’ A sample item for competence is ‘‘People at work tell me I am good at what I do. ’’ A sample item for relatedness is ‘‘People at work care about me. ’ Participants responded to the items on 7-point scales ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Coef? cient alpha was . 74, . 73, and . 80 for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, respectively. Identi? ed and intrinsic motivation Identi? ed and intrinsic motivation were assessed using the ? relevant subscales of the Motivation at Work Scale (Gagne et al. 2010). Participants rated the extent to which they agreed with six statements concerning their reasons for doing their jobs, responding on 7-point scales ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree.
Sample items for the 3-item identi? ed motivation scale (a = . 81) are ‘‘I do this job because it ? ts my personal values,’’ and ‘‘I do this job because it ful? lls my career plans. ’’ Sample items for the 3-item intrinsic motivation scale (a = . 83) are ‘‘I do this job because I enjoy this work very much,’’ and ‘‘I do this job for the moments of pleasure it brings me. ’’ Affective organizational commitment Commitment was measured using ? ve items from Meyer and Allen (1997) (a = . 83). A sample item is ‘‘I feel emotionally attached to this organization. ’ Respondents answered on 7-point scales ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Job satisfaction Three items (a = . 91) from the Michigan Organizational Assessment Questionnaire (Cammann et al. 1983) were used to measure the employee’s job satisfaction. A sample item is, ‘‘All in all, I am satis? ed with my job. ’’ Respondents answered on 7-point scales ranging from strongly disagree to strongly agree. Subjective vitality Subjective vitality at work was measured using Bostic et al. (2000) validated, 6-item version of Ryan and Frederick’s 1997) subjective vitality scale. Sample items are ‘‘I feel alive and vital at work,’’ and ‘‘I feel energized at work. ’’ Coef? cient alpha for the scale was . 92. The rating scales for these items were identical to those for the other items. Control variables We measured demographic variables that might relate to LMX, need satisfaction, autonomous motivation, and outcomes, including gender (0 = female, 1 = male), years of work experience, organizational tenure, and years working with current manager. Analyses We performed latent variable structural equation modeling ? (SEM) using Mplus (Muthen and Muthen 1998–2007) to test our mediational model. SEM is particularly advantageous for testing mediational models; the biasing effects of measurement error are reduced, measurement and structural models are tested, and indices of overall ? t are obtained (Kenny et al. 1998; Mathieu and Taylor 2006). In our structural equation analysis, we initially tested a series of con? rmatory factor analytic (CFA) models to ensure that the indicators adequately represented their intended constructs.
Since using all of the survey items as indicators would have resulted in an excessive number of parameters relative to the sample size, we used parcels (sums) of several survey items as indicators of some of the latent variables. The use of parcels is common in SEM and is particularly appropriate when the primary interest is the relationships between latent variables, as was the case in the present study (Landis et al. 2000; Little et al. 2002). Since a minimum of three to ? ve indicators per latent variable is helpful for model identi? cation (Kenny 1977), we did not form parcels for variables that had ? e or fewer survey items (i. e. , identi? ed motivation, intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment). The individual survey items served as indicators of these latent variables. For each latent variable with 6 or more survey items (i. e. , LMX, autonomy, competence, relatedness, subjective vitality), we used the single-factor procedure (Landis et al. 2000) to create parcels (i. e. , sums of two or three survey items) that served as indicators of the construct. In this procedure, a factor analysis was performed on the survey items for the construct, specifying a single-factor solution.
We then used the resulting factor loadings to develop parcels for the construct. We excluded any items that had factor loadings less than . 40; the remaining scale items were assigned to parcels in a manner such that the average factor loadings of the items comprising the parcels were empirically similar (see Landis et al. 2000). This process allowed us to create three parcels 123 Motiv Emot each for LMX, autonomy, competence, relatedness, and subjective vitality. In the CFA models, the nine ? rst-order latent variables (i. e. , LMX, autonomy, competence, relatedness, identi? d motivation, intrinsic motivation, job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment and subjective vitality) were represented by their respective indicators (i. e. , survey items or parcels). Autonomous motivation was a second-order factor represented by the identi? ed and intrinsic motivation latent variables. The second phase of the structural equation analysis tested the hypothesized model. The analysis included the demographic control variables, which were represented by observed measures. All of the control variables were purely exogenous and were allowed to in? ence all of the latent constructs except the lower-order identi? ed and intrinsic motivation constructs. Fit statistics included the Chi square statistic, standardized root mean square residual (SRMR), and the comparative ? t index (CFI) (Bentler 1990). We balanced Type I and Type II error by adopting cutoff ranges for CFI and SRMR suggested by Mathieu and Taylor (2006): models with CFI values of . 90 and SRMR [. 10 de? cient, those with CFI values C. 90 and . 95 and SRMR [. 08 and B. 10 acceptable, and those with CFI C. 95 and SRMR B. 08 excellent. We used the change in Chi square values to test the relative ? t of the nested models.
Results CFA Table 1 shows the means, standard deviations, and correlations for the study variables. Since our data were based on single-source survey responses, we tested for the presence of common method effects using the single-factor-method approach outlined by Podsakoff et al. (2003). Speci? cally, we compared the ? t of a model in which each indicator was a function of its latent (theoretical) construct to the ? t of a model in which each indicator was a function of both its theoretical construct and a latent factor representing common method variance (the higher-order autonomous motivation construct was not included in these models).
The results indicated that the ? t of the model with the common method variance factor was only slightly better (V2 (340) = 711. 87, p . 001; D V2 (1) = 6. 35, p . 05; CFI = . 94; SRMR = . 06) than the ? t of the model without this additional factor (V2 (341) = 718. 22, p . 001; CFI = . 94; SRMR = . 05). Moreover, the loadings of the theoretical constructs on their respective indicators were highly significant even when we accounted for the effects of the common method factor. Although we cannot rule out the possibility that our results were in? enced by common method variance, these ? ndings suggest that such effects were limited. We then calculated a measurement model that included the indicators, the nine ? rst-order latent constructs, and the second-order autonomous motivation construct. The ? t of the CFA model was acceptable (CFI = . 94; SRMR = . 06), despite a signi? cant Chi square (V2 (347) = 732. 40, p . 001). One indicator for organizational commitment (i. e. , the organization has a great deal of personal meaning) was trimmed from the measurement model because it was not suf? ciently related to its latent construct.
A correlated error term was added between two identi? ed motivation items that contained similar references to ful? lling goals and plans. These changes improved the overall ? t of the measurement model substantially (V2 (319) = 579. 94, p . 001; D V2 (28) = 152. 52, p . 001; CFI = . 96; SRMR = . 05). Standardized factor loadings for the indicators ranged from . 58 to . 94; all were signi? cant (p . 001). The standardized loadings of the second-order autonomous motivation construct on the ? rst-order identi? ed (. 92) and intrinsic motivation (. 99) latent constructs were also signi? ant (p . 001). To further test our measurement model, we compared our ? tted measurement model to several more parsimonious nested models where various latent constructs were combined. In particular, we compared our measurement model to several models in which the need satisfaction and autonomous motivation constructs were combined with other constructs or with each other. Table 2 provides the ? t statistics for the models, as well as Chi square difference tests comparing the ? t of each model to our measurement model. The results indicate that the ? of our measurement model (Model 1) was superior to each of the alternatives, and supports the discriminant validity of the autonomy, competence, relatedness, and autonomous motivation constructs. Structural model Figure 2 shows the results for the structural model; only signi? cant effects are shown. As noted earlier, this model included the control variables (gender, total years of work experience, organizational tenure, and years working with current manager), as well as the direct effects of LMX and the three need satisfaction variables on outcomes. Although the Chi square for the model was signi? ant (V2 (406) = 811. 33, p . 001), the remaining ? t statistics were acceptable (CFI = . 93, SRMR = . 08). The model explained 90. 7 % of the variance in subjective vitality, 87. 6 % of the variance in job satisfaction, and 60. 0 % of the variance in affective organizational commitment. As shown in the Fig. 2, LMX was positively related to ful? llment of the needs for autonomy (B = . 67, p . 001), competence (B = . 55, p . 001), and relatedness (B = . 50, 123 Motiv Emot Table 1 Means, standard deviations, and correlations for study variables Variable 1. Gendera 2. Work experience 3.
Organizational tenure 4. Years with supervisor 5. Leader-member exchange 6. Autonomy 7. Relatedness 8. Competence 9. Identi? ed motivation 10. Intrinsic motivation 11. Job satisfaction 12. Affective organizational commitment 13. Subjective vitality Mean . 54 20. 93 7. 53 2. 96 4. 88 5. 25 5. 40 5. 55 4. 89 4. 49 5. 39 4. 56 4. 57 S. D. .50 12. 53 7. 85 3. 48 1. 30 . 98 . 78 . 86 1. 31 1. 29 1. 35 1. 32 1. 27 . 15 . 00 –. 08 -. 07 -. 05 -. 15 -. 10 -. 10 -. 03 -. 07 -. 08 -. 01 . 45 . 27 -. 11 . 05 -. 14 . 08 . 09 . 10 . 08 . 04 . 13 . 44 . 07 . 15 . 07 . 21 . 14 . 14 . 14 . 22 . 17 . 2 . 22 . 07 . 14 . 12 . 13 . 13 . 18 . 16 . 53 . 43 . 46 . 37 . 35 . 47 . 37 . 49 . 46 . 57 . 40 . 49 . 53 . 54 . 57 . 50 . 24 . 35 . 43 . 40 . 45 . 54 . 62 . 68 . 53 . 73 . 69 . 70 . 49 . 67 . 77 . 62 . 77 . 62 . 81 . 62 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 N = 283. Data are based on the averages of the items comprising the scales. Correlations with an absolute value greater than . 12 are signi? cant at p . 05 a Gender was coded as 0 = female and 1 = male Table 2 Relative ? t of selected measurement and structural models DF V2 CFI SRMR DDF compared to base model DV2 compared to base model
Measurement models Model 1: CFA Model 2: Three need satisfaction constructs combined Model 3: Competence and autonomous motivation combined Model 4: Autonomy and autonomous motivation combined Model 5: Relatedness and autonomous motivation combined Model 6: Autonomous motivation and job satisfaction combined Model 7: Autonomous motivation and affective organizational commitment Model 8: Autonomous motivation and vitality combined Structural models Model A: Hypothesized model Model B: Need satisfaction variables ? autonomous motivation ? LMX ? outcome variables Model C: LMX ? outcome variables ? need satisfaction variables ? utonomous motivation 406 405 405 811. 33*** 920. 30*** 1074. 06*** . 93 . 91 . 89 . 08 . 16 . 12 1 1 108. 97*** 262. 73*** 319 332 325 325 325 325 325 325 579. 94*** 836. 43*** 620. 15*** 661. 99*** 635. 39*** 600. 14*** 605. 03*** 604. 82*** . 96 . 91 . 95 . 94 . 95 . 95 . 95 . 95 . 05 . 06 . 05 . 06 . 06 . 05 . 05 . 05 13 6 6 6 6 6 6 256. 49*** 40. 21*** 82. 05*** 55. 45*** 20. 06** 25. 09*** 24. 88*** N = 283. In Models 3–8, identi? ed motivation, intrinsic motivation, and the speci? ed latent variable (e. g. , competence for model 3) were combined into a single higher-order latent variable.
Model B included the direct effects of the need satisfaction variables on LMX and outcomes, as well as the direct effects of autonomous motivation on outcomes. Model C included the direct effects of LMX on the need satisfaction variables and autonomous motivation, as well as the direct effects of the outcomes on autonomous motivation ** p . 01, *** p . 001 p . 001). Individuals who reported higher-quality leadermember exchanges appeared to experience more of a sense of autonomy, competence, and relatedness at work. Thus, all parts of Hypothesis 1 were supported.
The effects of competence, autonomy, and relatedness on autonomous motivation were generally consistent with expectations. As proposed in Hypotheses 2a and 2b, competence (B = . 65, p . 001) and autonomy (B = . 23, p . 001) were positively related to autonomous motivation, indicating that higher levels of autonomy and competence were associated with higher levels of autonomous motivation. Contrary to Hypothesis 2c, relatedness (B = . 02, n. s. ) was unrelated to autonomous motivation. 123 Motiv Emot Standardized Structural Model LeaderMember Exchange Vitality . 14* . 27*** Job Satisfaction . 65*** . 23*** Autonomy Autonomous Motivation . 6*** . 55*** Competence .50*** . 67*** .76*** Relatedness . 23** .60*** .18** Affective Organizational Commitment Fig. 2 Standardized structural model. Note N = 283. Results for the controls are reported in the text. Only signi? cant effects are shown. *p . 05,**p . 01,***p . 001 Hypothesis 3 was completely supported. Autonomous motivation was positively related to subjective vitality (B = . 66, p . 001), job satisfaction (B = . 76, p . 001), and affective organizational commitment (B = . 60, p . 001). Consistent with SDT, increases in autonomous motivation appeared to be linked to increases in all three outcomes. Our ? dings also revealed direct effects of autonomy, competence, and relatedness on outcomes. Both autonomy (B = . 23, p . 01) and relatedness (B = . 18, p . 01) had direct positive relationships with affective organizational commitment; higher levels of autonomy and relatedness appeared to be directly linked to higher levels of commitment. There was also a direct positive relationship between competence and vitality (B = . 27, p . 001). Increases in feelings of competence were directly associated with increases in subjective vitality. Additionally, there was a signi? cant direct positive relationshipbetweenLMXandjobsatisfaction(B = . 4,p . 05). Individualswhoexperiencedhigher-qualityexchangesreportedhigherjobsatisfaction. ThedirecteffectsofLMXonvitality (B = . 07, n. s. ) and affective organizational commitment (B = -. 06,n. s. )werenonsigni? cant. Examination of the indirect effects of LMX revealed support for the notion that LMX in? uences the need satisfaction variables, which, in turn, affect autonomous motivation and outcomes. LMX had signi? cant positive indirect effects on all three outcomes through competence and autonomous motivation (vitality, . 24, p . 001; job satisfaction, . 27, p . 001; affective organizational commitment, . 1, p . 001), as well as through autonomy and autonomous motivation (vitality, . 10, p . 01; job satisfaction, . 12, p . 01; organizational commitment, . 09, p . 01). The indirect effect of LMX on commitment through relatedness was positive (. 09, p . 05), as was the indirect effect of LMX on commitment through autonomy (. 15, p . 01). Finally, there was a positive indirect effect of LMX on vitality through competence (. 15, p . 01). Control variables We found several effects for the control variables. Years with the current manager was related to LMX (B = . 14, p . 05) and autonomy (B = . 3, p . 05). Not surprisingly, the quality of the leader-member exchange and satisfaction of need for autonomy seemed to increase as the length of the relationship increased. In addition, organizational tenure was signi? cantly related to competence (B = . 15, p . 05), organizational commitment (B = . 21, p . 001), and subjective vitality (B = -. 08, p . 05). Individuals who had longer organizational tenure appeared to have more feelings of competence and commitment to the organization, but slightly less energy or vitality at work. Years of work experience was negatively related to LMX (B = -. 19, p . 1) and relatedness (B = -. 15, p . 05), and positively related to subjective vitality (B = . 12, p . 05). Compared to participants with less experience, those with more experience had lower-quality exchanges and less of a sense of relatedness, but more vitality. Gender was signi? cantly related to subjective vitality (B = . 07, p . 05); men reported slightly higher levels of vitality than women. 123 Motiv Emot Additional tests of structural model We further tested our structural model, Model A, by comparing it to two alternative models, Models B and C. Models B and C offered alternative causal orderings of the variables.
In Model B, the need satisfaction variables were presumed to lead to autonomous motivation, which, in turn, was expected to be associated with LMX and the outcome variables. This model tested the idea that need satisfaction and autonomous motivation facilitate LMX, perhaps because autonomously motivated employees are recognized as superior by their leaders. In Model C, LMX led to favorable outcomes, which, in turn, were expected to be associated with need satisfaction and autonomous motivation. Model C presumed that need satisfaction and autonomous motivation result from the bene? ial effects of LMX on outcomes. The ? t statistics for Models A, B, and C are shown in the bottom of Table 2; they indicate that the ? t of our hypothesized model is superior to the ? t of the alternative models. Discussion Our study contributed to the literature by examining the role of leader-member exchanges in facilitating employee self-determination at work. Integrating the SDT and LMX literatures, we explored the linkages between employees’ self-reports of LMX, satisfaction of autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs, autonomous motivation, and outcomes.
Overall, the ? ndings were consistent with our hypotheses and supported the idea that LMX is an important factor in evoking need satisfaction, which, in turn, facilitates autonomous motivation and positive work-related outcomes. As predicted by Hypothesis 1, the employee’s perception of the quality of the leader-member exchange was positively related to the satisfaction of psychological needs of competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Hypothesis 2a and 2b were both supported as competence and autonomy were both positively related to autonomous motivation.
However, Hypothesis 2c was not supported as relatedness was not signi? cantly related to autonomous motivation. Consistent with Hypothesis 3, autonomous motivation had positive relationships with job satisfaction, affective commitment, and subjective vitality. There were also a few direct positive relationships between the need satisfaction variables and outcomes. LMX was directly and positively related to job satisfaction, but not to organizational commitment or vitality. Although we cannot establish causality, our ? dings suggest that the employee’s perception of a high-quality relationship with the manager ful? lls the employee’s needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness. Increases in the ful? llment of autonomy and competence needs may result in increases in autonomous motivation, which, in turn, leads to higher levels of job satisfaction, affective organizational commitment, and subjective vitality. In contrast, employees who have low-quality relationships with their managers may experience less need satisfaction and autonomous motivation, and consequently have less favorable outcomes.
The positive relationships between LMX and satisfaction of the employee’s needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness suggest that the quality of the employee’s rela? tionship with the leader in? uences need ful? llment (Gagne ? 2003; Gagne and Deci 2005; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer and Vallerand 1995; Van den Broeck et al. 2008a). As described earlier, employees who reported low-quality relationships may have experienced impersonal, contractual relationships that offered limited opportunities for satisfaction of psychological needs. Leaders and employees may simply have ful? lled the requirements of their roles.
Consequently, employees may have had few chances to establish a sense of connection and relatedness with the leader, build competence through the completion of challenging tasks, or experience autonomy by choosing or ‘‘personally owning’’ tasks. In contrast, high-quality exchanges may have been characterized by mutual in? uence, support, and informationsharing (Graen and Uhl-Bien 1995). Employees who reported such relationships may have worked closely with their leaders and had access to those leaders’ social networks (Sparrowe and Liden 2005), creating a sense of belonging and connection.
They also may have received varied and challenging assignments, performance feedback, and development opportunities that allowed them to build feelings of competence. Their leaders may have provided them with opportunities to choose their assignments and make meaningful choices and decisions, resulting in feelings of autonomy (Erdogan and Enders 2007; Henderson et al. 2008). With respect to the relationships between the need satisfaction variables and autonomous motivation, our ? ndings suggest that satisfaction of autonomy and competence needs is more important for motivation than satisfaction of relatedness needs.
Satisfaction of autonomy needs may have allowed employees to view their work activities as a matter of free choice, a key prerequisite for autonomous motivation ? (Deci et al. 1991; Gagne and Deci 2005; Ryan and Deci 2000). Satisfaction of competence needs may have provided employees with a sense of effectiveness that facilitated pursuit of autonomously motivated activities. In contrast, a sense of relatedness may not have been required; employees may have been able to perform autonomously motivated activities in relative isolation from others (Ryan and Deci 2000).
Consistent with these arguments, some scholars have stressed the importance of feelings of competence and 123 Motiv Emot autonomy for autonomous motivation and suggested that feelings of relatedness provide ‘‘a distal support’’ (Ryan and Deci 2000, p. 235) for such motivation. Together with the handful of earlier studies linking employee need satisfaction to autonomous motivation (e. g. , Lynch et al. 2005; Milyavskava and Koestner 2011; Richer et al. 2002; Van den Broeck et al. 2010), our ? dings support the critical role of satisfaction of basic psychological needs in autonomous motivation at work. Moreover, they demonstrate the value of exploring the differential relationships between satisfaction of competence, relatedness, and autonomy needs, and autonomous motivation. The positive relationships between autonomous motivation and employee outcomes were consistent with expectations and mirrored the ? ndings of other recent studies (e. g. , Bono and Judge 2003; Judge et al. 2005; Otis and Pelletier 2005; Richer et al. 2002). It is possible that engaging in elf-consistent activities provided employees with a sense of genuineness that increased feelings of energy and aliveness and allowed them to experience their jobs as truly satisfying (Judge et al. 2005; Ryan and Deci 2001). Having the opportunity to engage in self-consistent activities at work also may have enhanced employees’ commitment to their organizations. Furthermore, autonomously motivated activities may have evoked positive affect (e. g. , joy, enthusiasm, interest), which, in turn, led to positively-biased information processing and more positive views of jobs and organizations.
We also found direct positive relationships between the need satisfaction variables and outcomes. None of these effects was surprising. Satisfaction of the need for competence was linked to increases in subjective vitality; feelings of competence may have allowed employees to feel more energetic and alive at work. Satisfaction of autonomy and relatedness was associated with increases in affective commitment. Employees whose autonomy and relatedness needs were satis? ed may have felt that they had been treated well by the organization. They may have believed that the organization was ful? ling its part of the psychological contract; the implicit agreement between the employee and the organization (Liden et al. 2004). As a result, they may have felt obligated to reciprocate this favorable treatment through increased commitment to the organization (Gouldner 1960). Implications for research and practice Our work suggests that leader-member exchanges play a critical role in the process of employee self-determination. Employees who report high quality leader-member relationships appear to have greater need satisfaction, which, in turn, facilitates autonomous motivation and ultimately enhances job attitudes and vitality.
Of course, additional research is necessary to substantiate the role of LMX in facilitating satisfaction of basic needs and autonomous motivation; longitudinal research is especially needed to establish causal linkages between the variables. It would also be helpful to expand the range of outcome variables to include measures of performance (e. g. , leaders’ ratings of employee performance, independent outcome measures) (Avolio et al. 2009). Doing so would increase our understanding of the behavioral implications of the causal linkages between LMX and the SDT variables.
Future research might build on our model by including other measures of the quality of the employee’s leadermember exchanges. At the dyadic level, researchers could incorporate the leader’s perspective on the relationship into the model. As noted earlier, employees’ and leaders’ evaluations of their dyadic relationships are distinct and may be differentially related to the variables in the model. It is also possible that th
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