When Is Empowerment Effective? The Role of Leader-Leader Exchange in Empowering Leadership, Cynicism, and Time Theft
Lorinkova, Natalia M.
Perry, Sara J.
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Applying arguments from social exchange theory, we theoretically derive and empirically test a multilevel model that informs theory on leadership, cynicism, and deviant withdrawal. Namely, we examine the moderating effect of the upward exchange relationship of a leader on empowering leadership behaviors as they affect subordinate psychological empowerment, cynicism, and time theft. In a sample of 161 employees across 37 direct supervisors, empowering leadership was associated with reduced employee cynicism both directly and indirectly through employee psychological empowerment. The positive relationship between empowering leadership and employee psychological empowerment, however, was significant only when the leader enjoyed a high-quality relationship with his or her own boss. In turn, cynicism was associated with increased time theft, suggesting that employees may reciprocate frustrating experiences by withdrawing in minor, yet impactful and deviant, ways in efforts to balance their exchange with the organization.