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Employee recognition, meaningfulness and behavioural involvement: test of a moderated mediation model

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This study examines how and under what conditions recognition practices are related to employee behavioural involvement at work. Combining social cognitive theory, social information processing theory and self-concordance theory, we develop and test a moderated mediation model in which (a) manager recognition promotes behavioural involvement both directly and indirectly through the intervening role of meaningfulness and (b) coworker recognition strengthens the benefits of manager recognition to meaningfulness and subsequent behavioural involvement. The results of a study of 130 employees provided empirical support for our model. These findings help clarify how different sources of recognition can shape the effective behavioural involvement in the workplace; they also emphasize the role of meaningfulness as an important psychological mechanism that explains the recognition–behaviour relation. The implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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The International Journal of Human Resource
Management
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Employee recognition, meaningfulness and
behavioural involvement: test of a moderated
mediation model
Francesco Montani, Jean-Sébastien Boudrias & Marilyne Pigeon
To cite this article: Francesco Montani, Jean-Sébastien Boudrias & Marilyne Pigeon (2017):
Employee recognition, meaningfulness and behavioural involvement: test of a moderated
mediation model, The International Journal of Human Resource Management, DOI:
10.1080/09585192.2017.1288153
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THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT, 2017
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2017.1288153
Employee recognition, meaningfulness and behavioural
involvement: test of a moderated mediation model
Francesco Montania, Jean-Sébastien Boudriasb and Marilyne Pigeonb
aEntrepreneurship and Strategy Department, Montpellier Business School, Montpellier, France;
bDepartment of Psychology, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Canada
ABSTRACT
This study examines how and under what conditions
recognition practices are related to employee behavioural
involvement at work. Combining social cognitive theory, social
information processing theory and self-concordance theory,
we develop and test a moderated mediation model in which
(a) manager recognition promotes behavioural involvement
both directly and indirectly through the intervening role of
meaningfulness and (b) coworker recognition strengthens
the benets of manager recognition to meaningfulness and
subsequent behavioural involvement. The results of a study
of 130 employees provided empirical support for our model.
These ndings help clarify how dierent sources of recognition
can shape the eective behavioural involvement in the
workplace; they also emphasize the role of meaningfulness
as an important psychological mechanism that explains the
recognition–behaviour relation. The implications for theory
and practice are discussed.
Introduction
Employee recognition has received increased focus from scholars and organiza-
tions as a non-monetary managerial strategy to incentivize eective behaviour at
work (Brun & Dugas, 2008). Recognition is generally dened as the assignment
of personal non-monetary rewards (i.e. interest, approval and appreciation) for
individual eorts and work accomplishment to recognize and reinforce the desired
behaviours displayed by an employee (Brun & Dugas, 2008; Long & Shields, 2010;
McAdams, 1999). Developing promising ndings on the benets of recognition
to work-related results, managers have consistently invested in recognition pro-
grammes as motivational instruments in the workplace (Feys, Anseel, & Wille,
2013). However, despite the progress that has been made, the recognition literature
© 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
KEYWORDS
Recognition;
meaningfulness; behavioural
involvement; manager;
coworker
CONTACT Francesco Montani f.montani@montpellier-bs.com
2 F. MONTANI ET AL.
continues to suer from limitations that may preclude consistent evidence-based
recommendations for employee recognition practices in the work environment.
First, to date, recognition research has mainly focused on recognition practices
in the context of employee in-role performance (Stajkovic & Luthans, 2003), thus
disregarding other work-related behaviours that are essential to an organization’s
eectiveness, such as individual extra-role contributions. To obtain a more com-
prehensive portrait of the role of recognition in nurturing work performance
and to consequently recommend the implementation of recognition practices
as reliable motivational instruments, it is important to consider both the in-role
and extra-role behavioural outputs of recognition. e research has shown that
these actions can be captured together by the overarching construct of behav-
ioural involvement, which is dened ‘as a set of empowered, active, and relatively
self-determined contributions of employees aiming at securing work eectiveness
or at improving work eciency within the organization’ (Boudrias, Morin, &
Lajoie, 2014, p. 438).
Second, despite the advances made in understanding the nal consequences
of employee recognition, there is much less evidence regarding the intermediate
mechanisms that can explain the impact of recognition practices on their end
results. erefore, further research is needed to more adequately evaluate the
processes through which recognition exerts its benecial eects on employee
behaviours. Finally, the current literature on recognition suers from an exclu-
sive emphasis on managerial-based recognition, which neglects the role of other
organizational sources in the recognition process. Among these, coworkers may
signicantly contribute to the benets of recognition because, due to their greater
presence relative to managers in the organization, they interact more frequently
with employees (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008) and consequently have the potential
to elicit additional appreciation and approval signals that reinforce those emit-
ted by managers. erefore, assessing the joint contributions of managerial and
peer recognition can help clarify whether dierent sources of recognition can be
adopted in concert to optimise the benets of recognition to employee outcomes.
e goal of this study is to advance the current knowledge on the benets of
recognition on employee in-role and extra-role behaviours by clarifying how two
dierent sources of recognition, i.e. managers and coworkers, can contribute to
behavioural involvement in the workplace. us, we integrate the social cognitive
theory (Bandura, 1986), the social information processing theory (Salancik &
Pfeer, 1978) and the self-concordance theory (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999) to propose
and test a moderated mediation mode (see Figure 1) in which (a) recognition
from managers is directly related to behavioural involvement; (b) meaningfulness,
‘the value of a work goal or purpose, judged in relation to an individual’s own
ideals or standards’ (Spreitzer, 1995, p. 1443), is involved as a mediating process
explaining the positive relations between recognition from managers and behav-
ioural involvement; and (c) the recognition from coworkers acts as a moderating
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 3
condition that strengthens the indirect positive eect of managerial recognition
on behavioural involvement via meaningfulness.
By assessing the proposed model, this study demonstrates that the social cog-
nitive theory, the social information processing theory and the self-concordance
theory are complementary theoretical approaches that, when combined, can help
clarify the processes and boundary conditions associated with the direct and
indirect eects of recognition on the employee behavioural involvement in the
workplace. Indeed, as we discuss in the next sections, the social cognitive theory
provides the conceptual foundation to predict a direct eect of manager recog-
nition on behavioural involvement and suggests that by increasing the likelihood
that desired personal outcomes will occur in the future, this form of recognition
will boost employees’ motivation to invest their eorts in in-role and extra-role
behaviours. e social information processing theory and the self-concordance
theory jointly provide important insights to clarify how (a) by providing rele-
vant information about the intrinsic value of employees’ performance and their
work-related competence, manager recognition promotes a concordance between
the work activities and the self, which is conducive to enhanced meaningfulness
and is indirectly conducive to behavioural involvement, and (b) by making the
information about the self-concordant nature of employees’ jobs more salient,
coworker recognition can intensify the indirect contribution of manager recog-
nition to behavioural involvement via meaningfulness.
us, by integrating dierent theoretical approaches, our study meaningfully
contributes to the extant literature on workplace recognition. For the rst time,
our study unravels two alternative pathways through which recognition practices
aect employee behavioural involvement: a direct pathway that links manager rec-
ognition with behavioural involvement and an indirect pathway in which manager
recognition, alone and in combination with coworker recognition, is indirectly
related to behavioural involvement through the mediating role of meaningfulness.
Figure 1.Conceptual model.
4 F. MONTANI ET AL.
Recognition from managers and behavioural involvement
Aer debating the use of monetary incentives to motivate eective performance
for many years (Gerhart, Rynes, & Fulmer, 2009), scholars have recently recom-
mended the identication of alternative non-monetary managerial incentives to
employee behaviour (Long & Shields, 2010). Consequently, research has begun to
highlight the benets of ‘non-cash’ managerial recognition on several work-related
outcomes (Brun & Dugas, 2008). For example, in their employee recognition
review, Brun and Dugas (2008) emphasized the important role of recognition in
preventing workplace psychological distress (Dany & Livian, 2002) and promoting
increased engagement (Tremblay, Guay, & Simard, 2000), on-the-job learning
(Lippit, 1997) and job satisfaction (Appelbaum & Kamal, 2000). Additionally,
empirical evidence has demonstrated that managerial non-monetary recognition
positively contributes to employee psychological well-being (Merino & Privado,
2015a).
In this study, we move a step forward by examining the in-role and extra-role
performance as joint behavioural outcomes of managerial recognition. As antic-
ipated above, these two complementary types of performance can be represented
together by the concept of behavioural involvement, which reects proactive
engagement in one’s job (Boudrias, Gaudreau, Savoie, & Morin, 2009). Specically,
behavioural involvement has been conceived and empirically operationalized by
Boudrias and Savoie (2006) as a multidimensional construct that encompasses ve
in-role and extra-role behavioural dimensions: (1) conscientiousness in performing
job tasks, which implies completing the expected tasks prociently; (2) amelio-
ration eorts to improve job tasks, which refers to causing useful changes to one’s
work; (3) collaboration to maximize group eciency, which entails collaborating
with ones colleagues to optimise workgroup performance; (4) personal initiative
to improve group eciency, which involves reviewing and adjusting workgroup
processes to make them more ecient; and (5) involvement at the organizational
level, which implies engaging in maintaining and improving the organizations
eciency. In-role behaviours are represented by the rst behavioural dimension
(1), whereas extra-role behaviours (i.e. behaviours that exceed normal expecta-
tions) are captured by the remaining dimensions (2–5).
us, the former commonly reect the task aspects of performance, which is
the work-related activities that are prescribed by role requirements (Motowidlo &
Van Scotter, 1994), whereas the latter cover the contextual dimension, which is the
work-related activities that benet the organization but that are not dictated by role
requirements (Motowidlo & Van Scotter, 1994). us, the extra-role component
of behavioural involvement is similar to organizational citizenship behaviour in
that both represent voluntary conducts that are expected to positively contribute
to organizational eectiveness (Boudrias & Savoie, 2006). However, the extra-role
dimensions of behavioural involvement dier from organizational citizenship
behaviours, in that the former uniquely encompass task-oriented activities that
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 5
employees proactively pursue to meet and exceed work-related goals (Boudrias
& Savoie, 2006), whereas the latter further involve interpersonal initiatives (i.e.
altruism and helping actions) and forms of involvement (i.e. adherence to infor-
mal organizational rules) that tend to be more reactive (Bolino, Valcea, & Harvey,
2010) and that are as aimed at receiving desirable outcomes, such as social approval
from others (Podsako, Whiting, Podsako, & Blume, 2009). Combined, all of
the components of behavioural involvement imply that an individual is highly
behaviourally engaged to contribute positively to the organization success.
e contribution of managerial recognition to employee behavioural involve-
ment can be explained through the lens of social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1986).
e social cognitive perspective argues that a large part of human behaviour
is regulated by the individuals capacity of setting and anticipating the desired
outcomes of potential actions through cognitive representations of the future to
guide and motivate the behavioural eorts in the present (Bandura, 1989, 2006).
In accordance with the social cognitive theory, the recognition literature sug-
gests that such a capacity can be eectively stimulated by manager recognition.
Indeed, by receiving personal appreciation from managers for their own eorts
and performance, employees would develop the perception that their desired
personal consequences are likely to occur (Stajkovic & Luthans, 1998, 2001),
thereby self-regulating their future behavioural involvement. Although a direct
link between managerial recognition and employee behavioural involvement
has yet to be studied, the social cognitive perspective has been applied to the
organizational domain to predict and empirically show the direct motivational
eect of manager recognition on in-role performance (Stajkovic & Luthans, 2003).
Moreover, prior empirical research provides indirect support to our arguments,
as it indicates that empowering managerial practices, which involve the recog-
nition and reward of employee performance, among others, signicantly boost
subordinates’ in-role and extra-role behaviours (Boudrias et al., 2009; Montani,
Courcy, Giorgi, & Boilard, 2015). erefore, we advance the following hypothesis:
Hypothesi s 1: Managerial recognition will be positively related to employee behavioural
involvement.
The mediating role of meaningfulness
Despite the promising ndings on the positive eects of recognition on employee
outcomes, research has neglected the mechanisms through which such eects are
transmitted. Indeed, to the best of our knowledge, one study has addressed this
issue (Merino & Privado, 2015a) by showing that the relation between manager
recognition and employee well-being was mediated by psychological resources, the
individual’s traits and states that allow better adaptation to the environment and
promote individual progress toward personal goals (Merino & Privado, 2015b).
However, the specic processes that link managerial recognition to employee
6 F. MONTANI ET AL.
behavioural involvement have yet to be examined. Our objective is to ll this
research gap by proposing that the positive contribution of recognition to in-role
and extra-role performance can occur not only directly but also indirectly via the
mediating role of meaningfulness. is concept is referred to as ‘the value of a
work goal or purpose, judged in relation to an individuals own ideals or standards’
(Spreitzer, 1995, p. 1443).
Note that in this study, we focus on meaningfulness as a mediating process
rather than on other psychological mechanisms that have shown to link the moti-
vational characteristics of the work environment (i.e. those characteristics that
can boost employee motivation) with performance-related outcomes. is choice
is motivated by two theoretically and empirically grounded reasons. First, the
theory and research on rewards suggest that the positive motivational eects of
intrinsic rewards, such as recognition, are primarily driven by the informational
aspect of rewards (Guzzo, 1979; Shanab, Peterson, Dargahi, & Deroian, 1981).
is aspect specically provides the individual with a visible identication of the
types of behaviours that the organization values (Long & Shields, 2010; Shanab
et al., 1981). us, the informational aspect of rewards emphasizes the uniqueness
and importance of the employees’ performed activity (Honneth, 1995a, 1995b;
Islam, 2013), thereby directly regarding the meaning the employees ascribe to
their own work (Spreitzer, 1995).
Accordingly, by conveying the informational aspect of reward to the employees,
recognition is expected to immediately shape the individual sense of meaningful-
ness in the workplace. Second, the key motivational models of workplace behav-
iour, such as Hackman and Oldhams (1976) job characteristics model or Kahn’s
(1990) model of employee engagement, have identied meaningfulness as a key
process linking the characteristics of the work environment with work outcomes.
Indeed, the empirical ndings have consistently shown meaningfulness to be the
primary mediator between motivational contextual characteristics and employee
outcomes (e.g. Fried, 1991; Humphrey, Nahrgang, & Morgeson, 2007) and the
strongest predictor of employee engagement (e.g. May, Gilson, & Harter, 2004;
Shamir, 1999). We therefore expect meaningfulness to be particularly determinant
in driving the eects of recognition on employee behavioural involvement.
e social information processing theory and the self-concordance theory can
help explain the proposed mediated relation. According to the social informa-
tion processing theory (Salancik & Pfeer, 1978), salient cues transmitted by the
immediate social environment are used by individuals to construct and interpret
reality; one means by which such interpretations are formed is the development of
perceptions that concern the meaningfulness and importance of the job (Salancik
& Pfeer, 1978). Supporting the social information processing perspective, the
empirical research has revealed that managers, by serving and acting as repre-
sentatives of the organization, are a key source of salient social cues that employ-
ees use to assess the meaningfulness of their own job (Coyle-Shapiro & Shore,
2007). However, this theoretical perspective does not provide specic information
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 7
concerning the characteristics and functions that the social environment must
possess to allow employees to experience an enhanced sense of meaningfulness
at work.
Conversely, the self-concordance theory (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999) can provide
important knowledge on this matter, as it suggests that it is the specic percep-
tion of congruence between one’s activity and ones’ own values, motives and/or
goals that positively shapes the meanings people make of their activities and that
motivates superior performance (Bono & Judge, 2003; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999).
Such a congruence means individuals’ behaviours express their authentic interests
and values; consequently, these latter are integrated within the self, and there is
a strong feeling of ownership for them (Bono & Judge, 2003; Sheldon & Houser-
Marko, 2001). In accordance with this theoretical approach, work experiences
that promote a sense of self-concordance between employees’ values and their
work-related tasks or behaviours have been shown to increase the meaningfulness
of work (Dik, Steger, Fitch-Martin, & Onder, 2013; Shamir, 1991).
By combining the complementary insights from the information processing
and self-concordance perspectives, it is therefore reasonable to contend that
the more the informational cues emanating from the social environment allow
employees to view their work as more self-concordant, the more likely it is that
employees, in turn, develop a higher sense of meaningfulness that would boost
their behavioural involvement. In this respect, the recognition literature suggests
that manager recognition would be particularly eective in transmitting such
informational cues, thus having the potential to enhance employee meaningful-
ness and, ultimately, to enhance behavioural involvement. Indeed, through recog
-
nition practices, managers convey important information concerning the worth
and competence of what an employee does, which are relevant input to the process
of self-concordance and, consequently, positive meaning-making (Wrzesniewski,
Dutton, & Debebe, 2003).
Specically, managers, by providing genuine appreciation for employees’
work-related eorts, emphasize the intrinsic value of their performance rather
than providing pragmatic extrinsic reasons for the required behaviours (Shamir,
House, & Arthur, 1993). Consequently, employees will perceive their work
behaviours as emanating from internal self-related causes. According to the self-
concordance theory, this perceived internal causation of behaviour is essential for
employees to recognize a more positive alignment between their work and the
self (deCharms, 1968) and, consequently, to experience a higher sense of mean-
ingfulness (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999). Moreover, by showing acknowledgement
and approval for a job well done, managers make successful mastery experiences
more salient to employees (Bandura, 1997). us, managers enable their followers
to experience increased competence (Stajkovic & Luthans, 2001) and personal
control on their job (Dik et al., 2013; Gecas, 1991; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001),
which promote a higher congruence between the work activities and the self
(Deci & Ryan, 2000; Sheldon & Elliot, 1999) that is conducive to a higher sense
8 F. MONTANI ET AL.
of meaningfulness. e results from separate streams of research provide indirect
support to these arguments; this shows that the provision of non-monetary recog-
nitions (e.g. positive feedback) fosters feelings of internal causality (Deci & Ryan,
1983, the expectation that life outcomes are contingent upon ones own behav-
iour (Rotter, 1966), and competence (Fisher, 1978; Podsako & Farh, 1989). In
addition, such experiences are associated with increased meaningfulness (Rosso,
Dekas, & Wrzesniewski, 2010).
e self-concordance theory (Sheldon & Elliot, 1999), in turn, suggests that the
enhanced sense of meaningfulness shaped by managerial recognition would pro-
mote higher behavioural involvement. Indeed, because meaningful work-related
behaviours are experienced as consistent with the self, employees will develop
an increased sense of identication with both their overall work and their over-
all workplace (Seibert, Wang, & Courtright, 2011); consequently, they will be
more motivated to be fully behaviourally involved at work (Sheldon, 2002). In
accordance with these assumptions, previous studies have demonstrated that
employees who experience meaningfulness at work report increased internal
work motivation, which is the degree to which an individual experiences positive
internal feelings when performing eectively on the job (Hackman & Oldham,
1980; Roberson, 1990), and engagement (Mayet al., 2004; Soane et al., 2013);
these are widely recognized as being essential to boost sustained eorts in both
in-role (Gagné & Deci, 2005; Schaufeli, Taris, & Bakker, 2006) and extra-role
(Battistelli, Galletta, Portoghese, & Vandenberghe, 2013; Halbesleben, Wheeler,
& Shanine, 2013) behaviours. Additionally, in separate studies, meaningfulness
has been shown to directly boost in-role performance (Hackman & Oldham,
1980; Wrzesniewski, 2003), whereas psychological empowerment, which is an
overarching construct that involves the experience of meaningfulness (Spreitzer,
1995), has been related to increased extra-role behaviours (Avolio, Zhu, Koh, &
Bhatia, 2004). In sum, we propose the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 2: Managerial recognition will be positively related to meaningfulness.
Hypothesis 3: Meaningfulness will be positively related to employee behavioural
involvement.
Hypothesis 4: e positive relationship between manager and employee behavioural
involvement will be partially mediated by meaningfulness.
The moderating role of coworker recognition
Due to their position of authority and their power in the organization (Fiske,
1992), managers are presumed to have a unique and more salient inuence on
employee perceptions and subsequent behaviours compared with organizational
members who share a similar hierarchical status with employees, such as cowork-
ers (Martínez-Corts, Boz, Medina, Benitez, & Munduate, 2011; Ng & Sorensen,
2008). Indeed, because managers tend to be considered representatives of the
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 9
organization (Eisenberger, Stinglhamber, Vandenberghe, Sucharski, & Rhoades,
2002), they play a more important role than coworkers in transmitting organiza-
tional beliefs and values to employees (Eby, Lockwood, & Butts, 2006). us, man-
agers should be more eective in conveying the information that the organization
appreciates and recognizes employee eorts and performance. Accordingly, when
managers provide substantial appreciation to their followers, we do not expect
coworker recognition to exert an additive main eect on employee meaningfulness
and behavioural involvement.
However, the social information processing theory oers a dierent perspective
that suggests that coworker recognition has the power to strengthen the benets
of managerial recognition to employees. Indeed, an important corollary of the
social information processing theory is that the availability of information in one’s
immediate environment is essential to better notice and interpret one’s work and
to consequently form the perceptions and attitudes (i.e. meaningfulness) that will
guide subsequent behaviours (i.e. behavioural involvement) (Salancik & Pfeer,
1978). In this regard, because coworkers generally ensure a greater presence rel-
ative to managers in the organization and share the same status as the employees,
they tend to interact more frequently with their colleagues than with managers
(Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008). Hence, this allows focal employees to more easily
access further information that will help them structure their focus on and inter-
pretation of their job.
Consistent with a social information processing perspective, we posit that,
when employees receive appreciation and acknowledgement by their colleagues,
the information concerning the self-concordant nature of their job that is trans-
mitted through managerial recognition is made more salient to them. Indeed, by
providing frequent recognitions that emphasize the intrinsic value of their job
and the perceived competence to execute it, coworkers convey information that
is consistent with those transmitted by managers (Liu, Lee, Mitchell, Holtom, &
Hinkin, 2012). us, the recognition increases the likelihood that employees will
consider the social cues that allow them to interpret their job as more congruent
with their self; consequently, they will experience a heightened sense of mean-
ingfulness that is conducive to increased behavioural involvement. Conversely, if
employees perceive signs of depreciation from colleagues for the work accomplish-
ments and eorts, the information necessary to form perceptions and judgements
regarding their job may be less readily available to them. Hence, the salience of
the information conveyed by managers would be reduced, thereby diminishing
the odds that employees will develop solid perceptions of job meaningfulness.
Moreover, coworkers are expected to play a key role in enhancing managers
trustworthiness and credibility, which are essential to improve the eectiveness
of manager recognition in emphasizing the value of subordinates’ job and their
work-related competences (Chiaburu & Harrison, 2008; Gist, 1987; Kelman,
1961). Indeed, on the one hand, the more an inuencing agent (i.e. a manager) is
considered credible and reliable, the more likely it is that the verbal and non-verbal
10 F. MONTANI ET AL.
messages that he conveys will be internalized and integrated within the value sys-
tem of the receiver (i.e. the employee) (Ashforth & Kreiner, 1999; Kelman, 1961).
On the other hand, when inuential people, such as managers, are considered
credible and trustworthy, they are more eective in raising competence and e-
cacy beliefs in others via verbal encouragements (Bandura, 1986, 1997; Gist, 1987).
In this respect, the social identity theory and the research on leadership
(Fielding & Hogg, 1997; Hogg, 2001) provide important insights for understand-
ing the role of coworkers in aecting the managers credibility and trustworthiness
and shaping the eects of managerial recognition practices on meaningfulness.
Specically, researchers consistently suggest that employee trust in leader increases
to the extent that this latter is perceived as a source of a consensual reality (Pierro,
Cicero, Bonaiuto, van Knippenberg, & Kruglanski, 2005). at is, the more sub-
ordinates obtain information and cues from their manager for which they have
received consensual validation from other group members, such as coworkers,
the more likely it is that the supervisor will be qualied as a valuable and reliable
source of social reality (Kruglanski, Shah, Pierro, & Mannetti, 2002). us, when
coworkers recognize and acknowledge employees’ work in a manner that conrms
supervisors’ recognition-related practices, these latter will be consensually vali-
dated by employees and will thus earn their trust (Fielding & Hogg, 1997; Platow
& van Knippenberg, 2001). erefore, employees will be more likely to internalize
the intrinsic value of the work that has been recognized and appreciated by their
manager and will be persuaded to have the competence to perform well, thus
experiencing heightened meaningfulness and ultimately behavioural involvement.
In contrast, when managers’ positive recognition is not mirrored by an equivalent
coworker reaction, employees will be more likely to distrust their managers as a
reliable and trustworthy source of information to the extent to which their work
eorts are appreciated and valued within the work environment. Such a lessened
credibility of managers will thus thwart the eectiveness of their recognition prac-
tices in highlighting the worth of employees’ work and the related competences.
Consequently, employees will be less likely to ascribe importance to their own job
and to become behaviourally involved in their role. Combined, these arguments
lead us to propose that the benets of managerial recognition to meaningfulness
and the subsequent employee behavioural involvement are enhanced when employ-
ees can frequently receive analogous forms of recognition from their colleagues.
erefore, we expect coworker recognition to improve the benets of manager
recognition to meaningfulness and consequently to behavioural involvement:
Hypothesis 5: Coworker recognition will moderate the positive relationship between
manager recognition and meaningfulness, such that the relationship will be stronger
when coworker recognition is higher.
Hypothesis 6: Coworker recognition will moderate the positive indirect relationship
between manager recognition and employee behavioural involvement via meaningful-
ness, such that the indirect relationship will be stronger when coworker recognition is
higher.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 11
Method
Participants and procedure
is study was conducted in nine French Canadian organizations from three dif-
ferent industries: automotive (56.9%), home-products manufacturing (25.4%) and
transportation management (17.7%).1 All organizations agreed to participate in a
study on employee behavioural involvement. In return, the organizations received
a research report with the aggregated results on their subordinates’ perceptions of
work conditions and their behavioural involvement. Because supervisors’ evalua-
tions were used to measure employee behavioural involvement, the organizations
provided us with a list of their employees; this allowed us to pre-code the subordi-
nates’ questionnaires and match them with the supervisors’ assessments. Informed
consent to participate in the research was obtained both from subordinates and
their supervisors, and the participants’ answers remained condential.
Participants answered via either a web-based or a paper-and-pencil question-
naire, depending on the organization’s choice. e research was conducted in two
phases. In the rst phase, we collected information from employees to assess their
perceptions of manager recognition, coworker recognition and job meaningful-
ness. Of the 360 questionnaires sent, 249 were returned (response rate: 69%). In
a second phase, we requested supervisors to assess behavioural involvement of
subordinates that participated in the study, and each supervisor rated approxi-
mately ve subordinates. In this phase, 151 supervisory assessments were collected
(response rate: 61%). Aer deleting dyads with incomplete responses on the study
variables, 130 dyads remained in the study, resulting in a nal response rate of
36.11%. With regards to the sample characteristics, participants had an average age
of 33.55years (SD=7.30); the majority were men (64.6%) who possessed a high
school degree (56.1%). In terms of organizational tenure, 22.3% of participants
had worked for their current organization for less than 1year, 41.6% between 1
and 5years, 12.3% between 6 and 10years, 8.5% between 10 and 15years, and
15.4% for more than 10years. ere were no signicant dierences between the
initial pool of respondents and the retained sample with regard to demographic
characteristics.
Measures
Manager and coworker recognition
Manager and coworker recognition were measured with ve items each from
Migneault, Rousseau, and Boudrias’s (2009) scale. Respondents were requested
to indicate how frequently (1=‘never’ to 5=‘always’) their manager/coworkers
displayed the measured behaviours. e ve items for the manager recognition
were ‘My supervisor shows appreciation for my contributions’, ‘My supervisor
acknowledges my performance, ‘My supervisor appreciates my eorts, ‘My super-
visor congratulates me for my achievements’ and ‘My supervisor takes an interest
12 F. MONTANI ET AL.
in what I’m doing’. e ve items for the coworker recognition were ‘My coworkers
appreciate my eorts’, ‘My coworkers congratulate me for my achievements’, ‘My
coworkers value my contributions in the workplace, ‘My coworkers acknowledge
my performance’ and ‘My coworkers recognize my eorts’. Cronbach’s alpha for
manager and coworker recognition was .92 and .90, respectively. Past research
(Boudrias et al., 2010; Lapointe & Boudrias, 2013; Migneault et al., 2009) indicated
that manager and coworker recognitions scales were found to be distinct and
reliable unitary scales (alphas ranging from .83 to .96). e correlations between
the scales are moderate (r=.44 to .50, p<.01). e manager recognition scale
displays predictive validity because it was found to be related to both in-role and
extra-role job involvement behaviours (r=.13 to .29, p<.01; Chénard-Poirier,
Sinclair, & Boudrias, 2013; Sinclair, Boudrias, & Lapointe, 2014). e coworker
recognition scale was also found to be linked to behavioural involvement (r=.31
to .42, p<.01; Boudrias et al., 2010; Lapointe & Boudrias, 2013; Migneault et al.,
2009).
Meaningfulness
e three-item scale from the Spreitzer (1995) psychological empowerment
instrument was used to measure meaningfulness. e respondents answered this
instrument based on a Likert scale ranging from 1 (‘totally disagree’) to 5 (‘totally
agree’) (e.g. ‘My job activities are personally meaningful to me’). Cronbach’s alpha
for this three-item scale was .85. e reliability and validity of the French version
of Spritzer’s scale has been demonstrated in multiple samples (Boudrias, Rousseau,
Migneault, Morin, & Courcy, 2010; Boudrias et al., 2014). For instance, this scale
was found to be a unitary reliable dimension (alpha ranging from .77 to .90). It
was also found to be positively related to the aective organizational commitment
(r=.49, p<.01), in-role and extra-role behavioural involvement (r=.36 to .52,
p<.01) and negatively related to burnout dimensions (r=–.29 to –.52, p<.01)
and intent to quit (r=–.36, p<.01).
Employee behavioural involvement
Boudrias and Savoie’s (2006) 15-item scale was used to measure employee behav-
ioural involvement (α= .96). Using a 10-point scale ranging from 1 (‘almost
never’) to 10 (‘almost always’), supervisors were requested to indicate the extent
to which their followers had been involved in the following ve in-role and
extra-role behavioural processes over the previous six months: conscientious-
ness in performing job tasks (α=.96), amelioration eorts to improve job tasks
(α=.96), collaboration to maximize group eciency (α=.93), personal initi-
ative to improve group eciency (α=.88), and involvement at the organiza-
tional level (α=.91). Evidence supporting the validity of this measure has been
reported in prior research (e.g. Boudrias et al., 2014). In this study, a global score
of employee behavioural involvement was used. is choice was based on prior
knowledge of this scale. Indeed, in a rst conrmatory factorial analysis study,
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 13
Boudrias et al. (2009) found that the ve distinguishable dimensions were cor-
related. e mean correlation between the dimensions was .54 (SD=.12) and
appeared sucient to compute a reliable global score (α=.85; Boudrias et al.,
2009). A second study by Boudrias and colleagues (2010) further indicated that a
second-order factor structure for the behavioural involvement construct satisfac-
torily tted the data (CFI, TLI>.90, SRMR, RMSEA<.08). Finally, in the present
study, the t indices for the ve rst-order factors (i.e. one in-role behaviour
dimension and four extra-role behaviours dimensions) plus one second-order
factor were acceptable (CFI=.96, RMSEA=.09, SRMR=.04); the correlations
between the ve dimensions range from .63 to .92 (mean=.79). ese ndings
suggest that these dimensions are indicators of an overarching construct, referred
to in this study as behavioural involvement. Our choice is also consistent with
prior studies, which have adopted the unitary score of behavioural involvement
to capture the employee who is overall active in-role and extra-role behaviours
(Boudrias et al., 2009; Montani et al., 2015).
Control variables
In accordance with previous research on meaningfulness and both in-role and
extra-role behaviours, we controlled for the following variables to determine
their proportional impact on meaningfulness and employee in-role and extra-
role behaviours: gender (Harris, Kacmar, & Zivnuska, 2007; Heilman & Chen,
2005; Tummers & Knies, 2013), age (McEvoy & Cascio, 1989; Organ & Ryan, 1995;
Tummers & Knies, 2013) education (Ng & Feldman, 2009; Tummers & Knies,
2013) and organizational tenure (Ng & Feldman, 2010).
Results
First, we established discriminant validity among the study variables by conduct-
ing a conrmatory factor analysis using Mplus 7.11 (Muthén & Muthén, [1998]
2012). For behavioural involvement, we used the scale scores of the ve dimen-
sions to indicate the respective overarching factor. For all other study constructs,
we used individual items as observed indicators. As observed from Table 1, the
hypothesized four-factor model (manager recognition, coworker recognition,
meaningfulness and behavioural involvement) displayed a suitable t to the data
(χ2 [146] = 264.79, CFI=.94, RMSEA=.08, SRMR=.05) and outperformed any
simpler representation of the data (p<.01). Table 2 provides descriptive statistics,
correlations and reliability estimates for the measures.
Moreover, because the independent variables (manager and coworker recog-
nition) and the mediator (meaningfulness) were collected at the same time with
self-report scales, common method bias problems may have arisen and inated
the study results. In accordance with Podsako, MacKenzie, and Podsako’s
(2012) statistical recommendations, we used the unmeasured latent method factor
approach to control for the eects of common method variance, prior to testing
14 F. MONTANI ET AL.
the hypotheses. is specic approach was chosen because it does not require
specifying the source of method bias and because it controls for any systematic
variance among the items that is independent of the covariance because of the
constructs of interest (Podsako et al., 2012). is technique is recommended
when the specic source of method bias is unknown or cannot be measured
(Williams, Cote, & Buckley, 1989), as in the present study.
Accordingly, to assess the potential increase in the model t that would be
obtained from explaining the unmeasured method factor, we added a common
method factor to the three-factor model, including supervisor recognition, cow-
orker recognition and meaningfulness. e model provided a better t to the
data than the same model without the method factor (χ2 [74] = 93.93, CFI=.97;
RMSEA=.06; SRMR=.06, Δχ2 (13) = 40.00, p<.01). Nonetheless, the factor
loadings in this model remained signicant and highly similar to those of the
three-factor model without the method factor.2 ese results therefore suggest
that common method bias does not pose a serious threat in our study.
To test the hypothesized model, we conducted bootstrap analyses using the
PROCESS macro for SPSS (Hayes, 2012), which uses ordinary least square to
estimate the direct, indirect and moderated indirect eects. is method allows the
simultaneous testing of complete models that integrate mediation and moderation
Table 1.Fit Indices for Confirmatory Factor Analyses.
Note: N=130. CFI =comparative fit index; RMSEA=root-mean-square error of approximation; SRMR=standard-
ized root mean square residual.
*p<.01.
Model χ2df Δχ2Δdf CFI RMSEA SRMR
Hypothesized four-factor model 264.79*146 – .94 .08 .05
Three-factor models
Combining manager recognition and
coworker recognition
513.90*149 249.11*3 .80 .14 .09
Combining meaningfulness and behav-
ioural involvement
443.78*149 178.99*3 .84 .12 .11
Two-factor model
Combining manager recognition, cow-
orker recognition and meaningfulness
670.40 *151 405.61*5 .72 .16 .11
One-factor model 1118.55*152 853.76*6 .48 .22 .17
Table 2.Descriptive Statistics and Correlations.
Notes: N=130.
Internal consistency coefficients (Cronbach’s alphas) appear along the diagonal in parentheses.
*p<.05; **p<.01.
Variables MSD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
1. Gender
2. Age –.10
3. Education –.10 .01
4. Organizational tenure –.23** .53** .03    
5. Manager recognition 3.64 .95 .01 .19** –.08 –.08 (.92)   
6. Coworker recognition 3.38 .83 –.19*.17*.07 .01 .47** (.90) 
7. Meaningfulness 4.11 .90 .02 .32** .06 .16 .40** .28** (.85) 
8. Behavioural involvement 6.74 1.89 –.03 .21*.23** .09 .32** .22*.36** (.96)
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 15
to examine the conditional nature of indirect eects, as is recommended by meth-
odologists (Edwards & Lambert, 2007; Preacher, Rucker, and Hayes (2007). is
approach also implies a bootstrap procedure to estimate the indirect eects, which
overcomes the problems associated with Baron and Kenny’s (1986) causal steps
and Sobel’s test, such as low statistical power (Hayes, 2009; Preacher & Hayes,
2008). Bootstrapping involves resampling the data multiple times and calculating
the statistic of interest (Efron & Tibshirani, 1993). A 95% condence interval is
next created through the bias-corrected percentile method, to test the signi-
cance of indirect eects and their dierence. Accordingly, the indirect eects
were assessed using bootstrapping with 5000 resamplings, as recommended by
Hayes (2013), to generate 95% bias-corrected condence intervals of both direct
and indirect eects. Participant gender, age, education and organizational tenure
were included as controls for the entire model.
Table 3 presents the results of (moderated) the multiple regression analyses
predicting meaningfulness and behavioural involvement and provides the basic
information that is necessary to test Hypotheses 1–6. In Hypothesis 1, we argued
for a positive direct relationship between manager recognition and employee
behavioural involvement; such a relationship did exist (B=.47, p<.05), as shown
in Table 3 (Model 3). In Hypotheses 2, 3 and 4, we predicted that manager recog-
nition would also be indirectly related to behavioural involvement via the medi-
ating role of meaningfulness. Table 3 (Model 2) shows that manager recognition
was positively associated with meaningfulness (B=.35, p<.01, Hypothesis 2).
Moreover, Table 3 (Model 5) shows that meaningfulness, in turn, was positively
linked to employee behavioural involvement (B= .47, p <.05, Hypothesis 3).
Based on 5000 replications, bootstrap analyses further showed that the indirect
eect of managerial recognition on behavioural involvement via meaningfulness
was signicant (indirect eect=.16, 95% CI=.03, .24, Hypothesis 4). erefore,
Table 3.Multiple Regression Results for Meaningfulness and Behavioural Involvement.
Note: N=130. Except for Total R2 and R2 rows, entries are unstandardized regression coefficients.
*p<.05; **p<.01.
Meaningfulness Behavioural involvement
Variables Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Control variables 
Gender .11 .17 .13 .01 –.00 .03
Age .22** .13 .13 .32*.10 .10
Education level .04 .06 .06 .38*.39** .38**
Organizational tenure .00 .05 .05 –.04 .02 .02
Independent variables     
Supervisor recognition .35** .35**  .47*.37
Coworker recognition .12 .09 .04 .08
Interaction term     
Supervisor recognition ×
Coworker recognition
 .17*  –.23
Mediator     
Meaningfulness    .47*.52*
Total R2.11*.24** .27*.10*.23** .24
R2 .13** .03* .13** .01
16 F. MONTANI ET AL.
Hypotheses 2, 3 and 4 were supported. Additionally, as shown in Table 3, none
of the direct paths from coworker recognition to either meaningfulness (B=.09,
ns, Model 2) or behavioural involvement (B=.04, ns, Model 5) were signicant.
Finally, Hypotheses 5 and 6 stated that manager recognition would be more
strongly related to meaningfulness and indirectly to behavioural involvement
for employees reporting higher recognition from coworkers. Following Cohen
and Cohen’s (1983) recommendations, we centred the controls and main pre-
dictors (i.e. manager recognition and coworker recognition) and then entered at
Step 1 and 2, respectively; furthermore, the interaction term between manager
recognition and coworker recognition was introduced at Step 3. As shown in
Table 3 (Model 3), the interaction term of manager and coworker recognition
was signicantly associated with meaningfulness (B=.17, p<.05) and explained
a signicant amount of the variance in meaningfulness beyond that explained by
the main eects (R2 = .27, ΔR2=.03, p<.05).
erefore, we explored the shape of this interaction by conducting a simple
slope test (Aiken & West, 1991). e results revealed that manager recognition
was positively and signicantly related to meaningfulness (B=.50, p<.05) when
coworker recognition was high (1 SD above the mean); however, this relationship
became non-signicant (B=.21, ns) when coworker recognition was low (1 SD
below the mean). Figure 2 depicts the interaction of supervisor and coworker
recognition. ese results lend full support to Hypothesis 5.
Figure 2. Meaningfulness as a function of role ambiguity at ±1 standard deviation (SD) of
coworker recognition (N=130). At low coworker recognition (1 SD below the mean), B=.21, ns;
at high coworker recognition (1 SD above the mean), B=.50, p<.05.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 17
Finally, to test whether the supervisor recognition–meaningfulness–behav-
ioural involvement indirect relationship increased at higher levels of coworker
recognition (Hypothesis 6), we used 5000 bootstrapping resamplings to generate
bias-corrected 95% condence intervals (CIs) for the magnitude of the indirect
eects at dierent values of coworker recognition. As hypothesized, the conditional
indirect eect of supervisor recognition on behavioural involvement via meaning-
fulness was stronger when coworker recognition was high (indirect eect=.24,
CI=.07, .49) rather than low (indirect eect=.10, CI=.00, .29). Additionally,
the index of moderated mediation was signicant (index=.08, CI=.02, .19),
which suggests that the indirect paths from manager recognition to behavioural
involvement diered signicantly across dierent levels of coworker recognition.
erefore, Hypothesis 6 was fully supported.
Discussion
Theoretical implications
is study’s objective was to elucidate the eects of recognition on workers’ behav-
ioural involvement. Prior research has highlighted the importance of recogni-
tion practices to improve employee engagement in in-role performance but has
neglected extra-role behaviours. However, considering these two performance
outcomes in concert is important to better ascertain whether recognition prac-
tices can simultaneously sustain employees’ active contributions to secure work
eectiveness and boost their proactive actions to improve their job and the organ-
izational environment. Our study is the rst, to our knowledge, to provide evi-
dence for a signicant positive link between manager recognition and employee
overall behavioural involvement in in-role and extra-role behaviours. us, this
investigation supports the social cognitive assumption that when individuals are
provided the possibility to anticipate desired personal outcomes at work, they are
likely to invest more eorts in goal-oriented behaviours (Bandura, 1989, 2006).
Specically, and importantly, our study extends this theoretical perspective to the
context of behavioural involvement at work and suggests that the more employees
receive recognition from their managers, the more likely they are to foresee it as
suggestive of forthcoming desired outcomes (Stajkovic & Luthans, 2001) and, thus,
the more likely they are to invest their eorts in-role and extra-role behaviours.
Furthermore, by establishing this direct positive relationship, we identied
a managerial practice that is more specic than the general high-performance
management practices usually associated with employee active contributions in
the workplace (Seibert et al., 2011). High-performance practices are generally
referred to as those HR practices that ‘increase employees’ knowledge, skills, and
abilities (KSAs), empower employees to leverage their KSAs for organizational
benet, and increase their motivation to do so’ (Combs, Liu, Hall, & Ketchen, 2006,
p. 502). erefore, this study highlighted the unique contribution of managerial
18 F. MONTANI ET AL.
recognition practices to performant in-role and extra-role behavioural conducts.
Importantly, the manager recognition–behavioural involvement association found
in this study is consistent with previous studies that reported a positive eect of
high-performance management practices on employee engagement in both in-role
(Karatepe, 2013) and extra-role activities (Morrison, 1996; Schneider, Ehrhart,
Mayer, Saltz, & Niles-Jolly, 2005). is nding suggests that managerial recogni-
tion has the potential to be as valuable as other high-performance work practices
in mobilizing employee behavioural involvement. Consequently, more research
focus should be devoted to examining the impact of this practice on important
employee and organizational outcomes.
However, our research further identied the perceptions of meaningfulness as
an important mechanism that explains how manager recognition contributes to
employee behavioural involvement. Based on the social information processing
theory and on the self-concordance theory, we oered an additional explanation
for the relationship between manager recognition and behavioural involvement
that extends beyond the anticipation of future desired outcomes. at is, the
relationship is based on the idea that employees rely on the salient information
received by recognition practices to evaluate the degree to which their job is
concordant and meaningful to them. us, employees are more or less motivated
to be involved in in-role and extra-role behaviours based on the judgement of
the meaningfulness of their job in relation to their internal values, goals and
motives. e support we found for this theoretical framework, above the direct
recognition–behaviour relationship, emphasizes the important role of perceptions
of meaningfulness in the experience of recognition practices.
As such, this result supports the assumption implied in social information
processing theory that the immediate social environment (i.e. the degree of rec-
ognition employees receive from managers) provides salient informational cues
allowing people to determine the extent to which their work is meaningful to
them. However, importantly, this result also enriches this theoretical approach
with the self-concordance principle, which suggests that for the work environment
to elicit rather than inhibit the experience of meaningfulness among employees,
it should promote an alignment between the work and the individuals’ values,
motives and goals. Our investigation suggests that managers who acknowledge
and appreciate employees’ work accomplishments provide relevant informational
cues that, by emphasizing the importance of employees’ work and their underlying
competences, can eectively exert such a self-concordant function, thus raising
higher levels of meaningfulness and ultimately, behavioural involvement.
is nding also has important implications for the extant theory on employee
meaningfulness because it helps clarify the social factors that aect meaningfulness
in the workplace, an issue that has been largely ignored in the literature (Rosso et
al., 2010). Prior research has indeed primarily focused on the intrapersonal deter-
minants, thus downplaying important social or contextual variables whose inves-
tigation would allow the development of a more comprehensive understanding
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 19
of meaningfulness. More recently, a few studies have begun to address this issue
by examining the role of leadership as a source of meaning of work. For example,
Ghadi, Fernando, and Caputi (2013) reported a positive relationship between
transformational leadership practices and employee meaningfulness, whereas
Tummers and Knies (2013) identied the leader-member exchange as a deter-
minant of meaningfulness. Our study moves a step further and shows that the
provision of simple, genuine appreciation and the acknowledgement of employee
accomplishments and eorts are relevant practices that leaders can enact to boost
the perceptions of employees’ work as more personally important and valuable.
Moreover, although not explicitly predicted by our model, our results fur-
ther showed that manager recognition positively aected meaningfulness and
behavioural involvement over and beyond coworker recognition, which was non-
signicantly (although positively) associated with them. ese ndings, which
are consistent with our expectations, support the widely held view that manag-
ers, by acting as representatives of the organization, are more likely to transmit
salient organizational views and beliefs than coworkers, thereby having a more
inuential role on employee attitudes and behaviours. Prior research has indeed
shown that managers’ practices, such as the provision of social support, have a
stronger eect on employee-level outcomes than analogous coworkers’ practices
(Ng & Sorensen, 2008).
However, consistent with our predictions, our study showed that cowork-
ers signicantly contribute to meaningfulness and behavioural involvement by
strengthening the positive eects of managerial recognition. It was indeed found
that when employees perceived poor recognition from their colleagues, the ben-
ets of manager recognition to meaningfulness and, indirectly, to behavioural
involvement disappeared. is nding supports the social information processing
framework suggesting that when fewer relevant informational cues are available
to employees, it is less likely that they will notice and interpret such cues to pro-
vide meaning to their job and thus enact corresponding behaviours. erefore,
our study contributes to validate the largely unexplored social information pro-
cessing-based assumption that employees’ sense of meaningfulness relies on the
combination and interaction among social sources of information rather than on
single sources (Rosso et al., 2010) and that coworkers represent a relevant source
that has the potential to signicantly shape the meaning and value of their work
(Wrzesniewski et al., 2003). Indeed, prior empirical studies have primarily relied
on the analysis of the eects of single sources on employee meaningfulness. As
Rosso et al. (2010) claimed in their review of the meaning or work, ‘this bias
toward focusing on the impact of single sources of meaning has limited our ability
to reach a more comprehensive understanding of how employees make meaning
of their work’ (p. 116). We partially addressed this limitation by showing for the
rst time that the interaction among multiple sources of recognition (i.e. manager
and coworkers) is essential to shape the employee construction of meaning in the
workplace and mobilize subsequent behavioural involvement.
20 F. MONTANI ET AL.
Combined, the ndings from this study have important implications for the
HRM literature. Indeed, social recognition has been widely advocated as a man-
agement practice that has a positive impact on employee eective functioning at
work (Bishop, 1987; Grawitch, Gottschalk, & Munz, 2006). However, social recog-
nition’s use as a specic intervention to improve work performance has been seri-
ously disregarded. Our results address this important void by providing empirical
evidence that recognition can signicantly improve employee behavioural involve-
ment. Specically, in contrast to prior HRM research, our study is the rst to show
that the higher importance ascribed to one’s work represents an immediate benet
that employees receive from being recognized by their supervisors and that such a
heightened sense of meaningfulness is responsible for driving the positive eects
of recognition to behavioural involvement. us, we provide the rst empirical
evidence for the HRM view that the power of recognition resides in its capacity
to emphasize the uniqueness and value of the individual, his/her work and his/
her particular competencies (Honneth, 1995a, 1995b). Specically, by focusing
on acknowledging people as intrinsically valuable and competent in themselves,
we corroborate the relevance of a care approach on HRM that promotes employee
eective functioning and ourishing in the workplace (Islam, 2013). Moreover,
although current HRM literature emphasizes people in leadership positions as
key providers of recognition (e.g. Stajkovic & Luthans, 2001, 2003), our study
moves a step beyond by showing how social appreciation and acknowledgments
oered by peers are essential to increase the eectiveness of manager recognition
in helping employees construe positive meaning in their work and in motivating
higher behavioural involvement. us, our ndings are unique in informing the
HRM literature; in addition, they show that the emission of consistent signs of
appreciation from managers and coworkers is essential to optimise the motiva-
tional benets of recognition to employee behavioural involvement at work.
Study limitations
ese ndings should also be considered, given several limitations that bear not-
ing. First, our research has a cross-sectional design, which impedes the derivation
of accurate inferences that concern the causal paths among the study variables
and eliminates possible alternative pathways. is issue is particularly salient for
the relationship between meaningfulness and behavioural involvement because
prior research has provided evidence for reciprocal eects between active moti-
vational states and employee behavioural involvement (Boudrias et al., 2014).
Longitudinal and experimental designs should be conducted in future studies to
establish the directionality of associations among variables. Nonetheless, the use
of dierent data sources and the assessment of the moderating eect should help
mitigate concerns regarding causality in this study (Zhang, LePine, Buckman,
& Wei, 2014). A second limitation is that independent, moderating and medi-
ating variables were assessed through employees’ self-report rating, which may
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 21
increase the possibility that the results are inated by common method variance
(Podsako, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsako, 2003). However, managers provided
ratings of employees’ behavioural involvement in this study, thereby limiting the
likelihood of common method bias. However, measures from additional sources
such as peers’ ratings of employee behavioural involvement should be included
in future research to prevent this concern.
A third limitation is that our study focused exclusively on non-monetary rec-
ognition, which precludes controlling for cash-based forms of recognitions that
have been shown to positively inuence employee performance (Long & Shields,
2010; Stajkovic & Luthans, 2001). erefore, the inclusion of monetary incentives
should be warranted in future studies to explain their eects on meaningfulness
and behavioural involvement. According to Lawler (1992), behavioural involve-
ment that is not sustained by proper contingent material rewards will fade over
time. us, non-monetary rewards such as recognition remain the type of rewards
that is the most readily accessible to managers and that proved to be eective to
foster involvement according to this study.
Practical implications
Even considering the limitations of our study, our results have a number of impor-
tant implications for HRM practices. First, the most immediate inference that
can be derived from this study is that employees will be more motivated to invest
their eorts in the accomplishment of task requirements and the improvement of
their job or environment if they receive genuine appreciation for such eorts and
their corresponding accomplishments by managers. is conclusion emphasizes
the worth of relying on non-monetary reward practices to directly mobilize both
in-role and extra-role behaviours at work. Importantly, because the objects of
recognitions are both accomplishments and eorts, such programmes should
make employees realize that their eorts, not their successful performance alone,
are being noticed, appreciated and valued by their managers (Brun & Dugas,
2008). us, actions that target the reward of work results can include recognizing
employee expertise and providing work assignments in accordance with their
qualications, providing professional practice awards, and implementing pro-
grammes to reward innovation. Actions that recognize eorts can entail thanking
employees for their involvement in work projects, recognizing employees’ ideas
regardless of their future utilization, highlighting the time invested in a team
project, and appreciating perseverance in pursuing dicult tasks.
Another relevant conclusion from our ndings is that the meaning employees
ascribe to their work is an important mechanism through which managerial rec-
ognition operates to positively shape behavioural involvement. erefore, man-
agers should be aware that to boost followers’ involvement in eective in-role
and extra-role behaviours, they should allow followers to experience a height-
ened sense of meaningfulness by taking actions that target the promotion of a
22 F. MONTANI ET AL.
perceived congruence between their jobs and their deeply held beliefs and values
(Baumeister & Vohs, 2002; Gecas, 1991). Importantly, this study indicates that
such managerial actions should entail the genuine recognition and appreciation
of employees’ eorts and positive accomplishments at work.
However, our ndings indicate that coworkers also have a relevant role to play
in this regard. Indeed, we demonstrated that the benets of managerial recog-
nition to meaningfulness and, indirectly, behavioural involvement are signi-
cantly strengthened when employees receive consistent recognition from their
colleagues. erefore, this research evidence informs management and organ-
izations that the sense of being appreciated by both peers and managers in the
workplace is essential to optimise the odds that employees will ascribe positive
meaning to their job and will thus be more performant in the execution of in-role
and extra-role behaviours. Accordingly, managers should be aware that recogni-
tion programmes will be more eective in nurturing behavioural involvement
to the extent that both vertical and horizontal forms of acknowledgement and
appreciation are provided to employees. us, beyond relying on the managerial
actions outlined above, managers would benet from establishing and nurturing
a positive climate of recognition among peers. For instant, managers could spon-
sor initiatives such as encouraging positive feedback on a colleagues professional
qualications or the spontaneous acknowledgement of a colleague who has been
confronted with a major work challenge. us, these actions will help the man-
ager boost the eectiveness of his own recognition practices in the promotion of
job meaningfulness and employee behavioural involvement. Combined, these
practical implications point to the relevance of planning and implementing HR
training programs targeted at guiding managers and coworkers in the identica-
tion and employment of the proper recognition practices that are expected to be
the generators of meaning for individuals’ work and the motivational drivers of
behavioural involvement.
To conclude, this work represents an important step forward into the clarica-
tion of the processes explaining the benets of recognition in the workplace and
the boundary conditions associated with such eects. We hope that our ndings
will encourage researchers to further examine the consequences of recognition
at work and that they will contribute to elucidate the dierent pathways through
which this practice aects employee behavioural involvement.
Notes
1. e results of a one-way ANOVA indicated that there was no signicant dierence
among the three industries in the levels of either employee meaningfulness (F(2, 127)
= .15, ns) or behavioural involvement (F(2, 127) = 2.76, p<.001). is nding suggests
that it was not necessary to control for the industrial sector.
2. e results are available upon requests.
THE INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT 23
Disclosure statement
No potential conict of interest was reported by the authors.
Funding
is work was supported by the Fonds de Recherche du Québec-Société et Culture [grant
number 2007NP112588].
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... The importance of meaningful workdefined as the subjective experience of how existentially significant and valuable people find their work to be (Both-Nwabuwe et al., 2017;Martela & Pessi, 2018) for the quality of work life and occupational health psychology is also underscored by studies that have associated it with job satisfaction (Littman-Ovadia & Steger, 2010), work engagement (Steger, Littman-Ovadia, et al., 2012;Yasin Ghadi et al., 2013), organizational commitment (Geldenhuys et al., 2014), decreased turnover intentions and absenteeism (Leunissen et al., 2018;Soane et al., 2013), customer satisfaction (Leiter et al., 1998), supervisor-rated performance (Harris et al., 2007), and behavioral involvement (Montani et al., 2020), among others. A recent meta-analysis of the outcomes of meaningful work concluded that the results -broadly support the notion that people with meaningful work feel better and work fourth innate source of meaningfulness, making it important to study beneficence alongside the three needs of SDT when examining antecedents of meaningful work. ...
... Allan et al., 2016;Schnell et al., 2013), recent reviews have pointed out that most of this research has been cross-sectional Lysova et al., 2019), making it hard to disentangle the direction of influence. Accordingly, longitudinal research, which is able to go beyond mere cross-sectional correlations to examine whether the potential antecedents can predict meaningful work over time, has been called for (Martela & Riekki, 2018;Montani et al., 2020;Rosso et al., 2010). Furthermore, most studies have looked at -single sources of work meaning‖ in a siloed manner, leading to calls for research that would examine multiple potential sources of meaningful work simultaneously (Rosso et al., 2010, p. 115;Allan, 2017). ...
... The present study examines autonomy, competence, relatedness, and beneficence as potential prospective predictors of meaningful work in a longitudinal sample, to test SDT as a framework to understand sources of meaningfulness, while also addressing calls for research going beyond cross-sectional research and testing only one potential predictor at a time (Lysova et al., 2019;Montani et al., 2020;Rosso et al., 2010). To test our hypotheses, we conducted a three-wave longitudinal study, using a cross-lagged panel model. ...
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... Mais ce résultat nous amène aussi à envisager la possible existence d'un effet modérateur entre les différents types de reconnaissances. De telles modérations ont déjà été étudiées par Montani et al. (2020). Ces auteurs, s'intéressaient aux effets de la reconnaissance sur le sens au travail et faisaient l'hypothèse que la reconnaissance des pairs modérait la relation positive entre la Enfin, notre cinquième étude nous renseigne que l'intervention job crafting permet d'influencer les comportements de job crafting, mais uniquement ceux relatifs à la recherche de ressources sociales. ...
Thesis
Les mutations et transformations du travail s’accélèrent, impliquant souvent la dégradation des conditions de travail des salariés. Pour y faire face, les entreprises adoptent de plus en plus fréquemment des politiques de Qualité de Vie au Travail qui ont pour principal objectif l’amélioration du bien-être et de la performance des salariés. Depuis quatre ans, un établissement de l’entreprise SNCF cherche à répondre à ses enjeux en développant l’autonomie et la responsabilisation de ses salariés. Dans ce contexte, notre recherche s’est tout d’abord intéressée à identifier les conditions dans lesquelles il est possible de développer l’empowerment psychologique des salariés (Spreitzer, 1995). Dans un deuxième temps, notre objectif ambitionnait de promouvoir l’empowerment psychologique par une intervention. Une première étude utilisant une méthodologie qualitative a cherché à identifier les conditions de travail perçues, en termes d’exigences et de ressources (Bakker et Demerouti, 2007), qui peuvent influencer l’empowerment psychologique des salariés de l’établissement. Par la suite, une autre étude a été réalisée afin de confirmer, par une méthodologie quantitative, les premiers résultats obtenus. Deux échelles de mesure ont été traduites puis validées pour les besoins de cette recherche (leadership d’empowerment et job crafting). Enfin, une dernière étude portait l’objectif d’expérimenter, par l’intervention, une technique d’augmentation des ressources socio-organisationnelles en contexte écologique pour développer l’empowerment psychologique des salariés. Cette recherche met en évidence le rôle central des ressources socio-organisationnelles telles que la reconnaissance, la justice organisationnelle et le leadership d’empowerment, pour favoriser le développement de l’empowerment psychologique des salariés. Mais elle souligne aussi l’effet rétroactif des comportements de job crafting pour développer les ressources des salariés favorables au développement de leur empowerment psychologique. Enfin, les résultats de l’étude quasi expérimentale mettent en lumière l’aspect prometteur des interventions job crafting pour atteindre cet objectif.
... In comparison with rewards, employee recognition is more non-monetary related, so it can inspire employees to do more work at a very low cost [1]. Therefore, most recognition studies focus on in-role performance [9]. In this study, we choose OCB as an outcome variable besides task performance to further enrich the gaps in relevant literature by examining how recognition practices (non-financial incentives) provided by superiors influence employees of their in-role and extra-role outcomes, which is task performance and OCB, in our study. ...
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... On the other hand, more participatory management styles, such as transformational leadership, will increase meaningfulness [42]. In a similar vein, manager recognition causes work to be perceived with greater meaning by employees [43]. On the other side, some of the most significant consequences of meaningful work are that it lowers turnover intentions [44], increases engagement [45], or reduces burnout [46]. ...
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Book
I: Background.- 1. An Introduction.- 2. Conceptualizations of Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination.- II: Self-Determination Theory.- 3. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Perceived Causality and Perceived Competence.- 4. Cognitive Evaluation Theory: Interpersonal Communication and Intrapersonal Regulation.- 5. Toward an Organismic Integration Theory: Motivation and Development.- 6. Causality Orientations Theory: Personality Influences on Motivation.- III: Alternative Approaches.- 7. Operant and Attributional Theories.- 8. Information-Processing Theories.- IV: Applications and Implications.- 9. Education.- 10. Psychotherapy.- 11. Work.- 12. Sports.- References.- Author Index.
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