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Feedback helps employees to evaluate and improve their performance, but there have been relatively few empirical investigations into how leaders can encourage employees to seek feedback. To fill this gap we examined the relationship among delegation, psychological empowerment, and feedback-seeking behavior. We hypothesized that delegation promotes feedback-seeking behavior by psychologically empowering subordinates. In addition, power distance moderates the relationship between delegation and feedback-seeking behavior. Analysis of data from a sample of 248 full-time employees of a hotel group in northern China indicated that delegation predicts subordinates' feedback seeking for individuals with moderate and high power distance orientation, but not for those with low power distance orientation. The mediation hypothesis was also supported.
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ORIGINAL RESEARCH
published: 07 June 2017
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00920
Edited by:
Scott N. Taylor,
Babson College, United States
Reviewed by:
Alexandros Papalexandris,
Athens University of Economics
and Business, Greece
Brooke A. Gazdag,
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität
München, Germany
*Correspondence:
Jing Qian
jingqian@bnu.edu.cn
Specialty section:
This article was submitted to
Organizational Psychology,
a section of the journal
Frontiers in Psychology
Received: 06 January 2017
Accepted: 18 May 2017
Published: 07 June 2017
Citation:
Zhang X, Qian J, Wang B, Jin Z,
Wang J and Wang Y (2017) Leaders’
Behaviors Matter: The Role
of Delegation in Promoting
Employees’ Feedback-Seeking
Behavior. Front. Psychol. 8:920.
doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00920
Leaders’ Behaviors Matter: The Role
of Delegation in Promoting
Employees’ Feedback-Seeking
Behavior
Xiyang Zhang1, Jing Qian2*, Bin Wang2, Zhuyun Jin1, Jiachen Wang1and Yu Wang3
1Beijing Key Laboratory of Applied Experimental Psychology, School of Psychology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China,
2Department of Human Resource Management, Business School, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China, 3Department of
Political Science, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, United States
Feedback helps employees to evaluate and improve their performance, but there
have been relatively few empirical investigations into how leaders can encourage
employees to seek feedback. To fill this gap we examined the relationship
among delegation, psychological empowerment, and feedback-seeking behavior. We
hypothesized that delegation promotes feedback-seeking behavior by psychologically
empowering subordinates. In addition, power distance moderates the relationship
between delegation and feedback-seeking behavior. Analysis of data from a sample
of 248 full-time employees of a hotel group in northern China indicated that delegation
predicts subordinates’ feedback seeking for individuals with moderate and high power
distance orientation, but not for those with low power distance orientation. The
mediation hypothesis was also supported.
Keywords: delegation, psychological empowerment, feedback seeking, power distance, positive behavior
INTRODUCTION
According to a survey from SHL, a US psychometric testing company, managers spend around 14%
of their time redoing tasks and correcting employees’ mistakes and this proportion is even higher in
high power distance cultures such as Hong Kong (24%) and India (20%) (The Future Foundation,
2004). Clearly, people need information about their performance, but most employees do not
receive timely feedback on their work. Nowadays more and more people actively seek feedback
instead of waiting passively to receive it. Leaders are also aware of the situation and are finding
ways to encourage employees to seek feedback.
The seeking of feedback occurs when individuals make a conscious effort to seek information
about the correctness and adequacy of their behaviors and performance from others (Ashford
and Cummings, 1983). Supervisors’ feedback can help employees to evaluate and improve their
performance as well as clarifying role expectations (Renn and Fedor, 2001;Ashford et al., 2003;
Whitaker et al., 2007). Since Ashford and Cummings (1983) proposed the feedback-seeking
construct there have been numerous studies exploring its antecedents. Some studies emphasize
the role of individual characteristics in tendency to seek feedback, for example there is evidence
that desire for useful information, motivation to manage impression, learning goal orientation and
high self-esteem drive employees to seek feedback at work (e.g., Fedor et al., 2001;Tuckey et al.,
2002;Bernichon et al., 2003;Anseel et al., 2015).
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Zhang et al. Delegation and Feedback Seeking Behavior
Recently researchers have started to explore the contextual
antecedents of feedback-seeking, in particular how leaders could
influence employees’ seeking of feedback. For example, in a
study with 132 participants Levy et al. (2002) found that the
presence of a transformational leader was positively associated
with intention to seek feedback. They suggested that exposure
to a certain leader and the perception that a leader has certain
characteristics are important determinants of tendency to seek
feedback from supervisors. Qian et al. (in press) proposed
that authentic leadership promotes the seeking of feedback by
influencing employees’ beliefs about the value of feedback and
cost of seeking it. Authentic leadership also promotes positive
emotions amongst employees and thus encourages them to seek
feedback from supervisors.
In this research we focused on delegation, a managerial
technique whose potential to change the work context is already
recognized. As more and more companies adopt flat or non-
hierarchical organizational structures, delegation will become
an increasingly popular managerial technique (Kastelle, 2013).
Many successful companies, including Google and Facebook,
attract talent with a more relaxed management culture in which
authority is delegated and subordinates are more involved in
decision-making (Garvin, 2013). When power and authority
are delegated to employees they have more freedom to work
autonomously and experience a range of positive outcomes such
as higher job satisfaction, organizational commitment, innovative
behavior and task performance (Chen G. et al., 2007). Delegation
also motivates subordinates to enhance their skills and expertise
(Uhl-Bien et al., 2000). As yet, however, there is a lack of
empirical evidence that delegation is associated with the seeking
of feedback. In this study, therefore, we tested the hypothesis
that delegation would increase employees’ feedback seeking from
supervisors.
We also set out to examine the mechanism through which
delegation influences followers’ feedback-seeking behavior.
Psychological empowerment has been defined as increased
intrinsic task motivation that is manifested in cognitions that
reflect an individual’s active orientation to his or her work role
(Spreitzer, 1995, p. 1443). Numerous empirical studies have
shown that psychological empowerment is the mechanism
underlying leaders’ influence on outcome variables (e.g., Avolio
et al., 2004;Alge et al., 2006;Chen G. et al., 2007;Dewettinck
and van Ameijde, 2011). More importantly, it has been shown
that psychological empowerment plays an important role
in the feedback-seeking process (e.g., Chen Z. et al., 2007;
Huang, 2012). In this study, we have responded to this call by
examining psychological empowerment as a potential mediator
of the relation between delegation and feedback seeking. We
hypothesized that psychological empowerment of subordinates
would predict feedback-seeking behavior and would mediate the
relationship between delegation and seeking of feedback from
supervisors.
Additionally, we aim to identify the limits to the influence of
delegation on feedback-seeking behavior by examining whether
this relationship was moderated by an individual-level variable,
namely power distance. Power distance is defined as the extent to
which one accepts the unequal distribution of power in society
and organizations (Hofstede, 1980) and has been explored as
an individual-level construct and at cultural level (e.g., Kirkman
et al., 2009). It is considered to have an important influence on
reactions to leaders (Kirkman et al., 2009). It is not surprising,
therefore, that many studies have attempted to identify how
power distance moderates the influence of leadership behaviors
and managerial techniques (e.g., Farh et al., 2007;Liu and Liao,
2013;Qian and Li, 2016). In this study we examined how power
distance moderates the impact of delegation on feedback-seeking
behavior.
As Bass said, “delegation implies that one has been empowered
by one’s superior to take responsibility for certain activities” (Bass,
1990, p. 437). Delegation is closely related to empowerment.
Empowerment is a motivational concept related to self-efficacy.
People experience psychological empowerment when they feel
responsible for meaningful tasks. They also feel empowered when
they believe they are competent and make a difference. In earlier
works empowerment was conceptualized as a leader behavior
that was similar to delegation (e.g., Locke and Schweiger, 1979;
Miller and Monge, 1986;Cotton, 1988, 1993), but more recently
it has been defined as a constellation of psychological states
experienced by employees (e.g., Sigler and Pearson, 2000;Niehoff
et al., 2001;Randolph and Kemery, 2011;Frazier and Fainshmidt,
2012;Maynard et al., 2014). Previous work has demonstrated that
leadership empowering behavior and managerial empowerment
practice is positively related to psychological empowerment
(Dewettinck and van Ameijde, 2011;Randolph and Kemery,
2011). We argue that delegation is an antecedent of psychological
empowerment.
When responsibility or authority is delegated to employees
they usually find that they are faced with a challenging, complex
task to tackle independently; the task may require a high
level of skill and may have significance. Thus delegation may
make subordinates feel that their job is meaningful and they
are responsible for work outcomes. Managers are more likely
to delegate to subordinates who have worked for them for a
relatively long time and are particularly competent; they are
also more willing to delegate to subordinates who are also
managers (Yukl and Fu, 1999). Therefore, when subordinates are
delegated, they may feel trusted, organisationally important, and
higher status within organization (Gardner et al., 2004;Chen and
Aryee, 2007). Delegation may also boost subordinates’ self-esteem
and make them believe that they are capable of performing
tasks successfully and that their behavior makes a difference.
Delegation enables subordinates to exercise self-direction and
control, provides employees with meaning, perceptions of self-
efficacy and self-determination and the perception that they make
an impact, all of which have been identified as key ingredients of
empowerment (Thomas and Velthouse, 1990;Spreitzer, 1995).
Hypothesis 1: Delegation is positively related to psychological
empowerment.
Psychological empowerment is essential to organizational
effectiveness (Mathieu et al., 2006). Empowered employees are
more innovative, happier, and more productive. Motivation,
loyalty, problem-solving performance and coordination between
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functions also improve with psychological empowerment (e.g.,
Spreitzer, 1995;Sigler and Pearson, 2000;Niehoff et al., 2001;
Laschinger et al., 2002;Molix and Bettencourt, 2010;Zhang
and Bartol, 2010;Seibert et al., 2011). However, there is little
empirical evidence that psychological empowerment increases
the tendency to seek feedback from supervisors. We argue that
empowerment should increase the seeking of feedback from
supervisors in several ways.
First, empowered employees are motivated and actively
oriented to their work role. They feel that their behavior makes a
difference and they have responsibility for tasks (Spreitzer, 1995).
They may, therefore, actively search for ways to improve the
quality of their work. From an instrumental perspective, feedback
is a valuable way of acquiring useful information (Ashford et al.,
2003). Herold and Greller (1977) found that workers viewed
feedback as an important way of improving the quality of their
work because it gave them information about how well others
thought they were doing their job. Subordinates may choose to
seek feedback more frequently as a way of improving the quality
of their work (VandeWalle et al., 2000;Ashford et al., 2003).
Accordingly, empowered employees may actively seek feedback
as a way of improving their performance.
Second, empowerment can be an indication of a relatively
strong relationship between employer and subordinates.
Specifically, empowerment may indicate that there is
mutual trust and frequent interaction between employer
and subordinates. Numerous empirical studies have found that
employee empowerment is positively associated with trust in
supervisors (Laschinger and Finegan, 2005;Moye and Henkin,
2006;Ergeneli et al., 2007;Huang, 2012). Zhu et al. (2004)
proposed that empowered employees are more likely to trust
their leaders and feel commitment to the organization. It has
been suggested that employees who feel empowered usually
trust their employers, which usually enhances communication
and improves problem-solving processes (Willemyns et al.,
2003). Trust is a determinant of the feedback-seeking behavior
of subordinates (Barner-Rasmussen, 2003). Mutual trust and
respect from leaders for subordinates’ ideas can increase
subordinates’ feedback-seeking by lowering the perceived cost of
feedback (VandeWalle et al., 2000). Empowered employees are
also more confident and feel that they are competent and can
make an impact. Chen G. et al. (2007) proposed that employees
who feel empowered contribute more actively when involved
in groups of higher organizational status. It may also enhance
their relationship with supervisors which were shown to be
crucial to subordinates’ seeking of feedback (Barner-Rasmussen,
2003). Having a supportive leader was shown to increase the
frequency with which employees sought feedback (Williams
et al., 1999).
Finally, empowered employees are less afraid of receiving
negative feedback. Scholars assume that performance feedback
is a complex, multidimensional construct that encompasses both
positive and negative feedback (Van Dijk and Kluger, 2011).
People who receive negative feedback may deny or distort it.
Because it can be perceived as a threat and may cause the
recipient to lose face, or damage his or her self-esteem (Bernichon
et al., 2003). It is inevitable that sometimes the quality of one’s
work will not meet the supervisor’s expectations and will elicit
negative feedback. In this situation employees may be required
to make lots of revisions and face considerable criticism, with
the result that their self-esteem suffers. Empowered employees
feel competent, feel that they make an impact and usually
have high self-esteem. They tend to seek feedback to achieve
goals even if that feedback is negative. In contrast, people
with low self-esteem are concerned with self-protection and
less able to tolerate negative feedback (Bernichon et al., 2003).
Empowered employees tend to be confident about their work
and hence are less worried about the prospect of negative
feedback and are thus more likely to seek feedback from
supervisors.
Hypothesis 2: Psychological empowerment is positively related to
the seeking of feedback from supervisors.
Delegation can provide nourishing conditions necessary for
feedback-seeking by psychologically empowering subordinates
and motivating them to improve their work quality. When
delegated authority and responsibility, subordinates may feel
they are trusted and organizationally important (Gardner et al.,
2004;Pierce and Gardner, 2004;Chen and Aryee, 2007). It
will also boost their self-esteem and make them believe their
supervisors consider them to be able, task-competent, and need-
satisfying (Blau and Alba, 1982;Sashkin, 1984). Therefore, they
are motivated to enhance their work quality. As a consequence,
subordinates may actively seek feedback, which is useful for
employees to evaluate their work and improve their performance
(Ashford et al., 2003).
If employees do not feel empowered, delegation itself may
not lead to feedback-seeking behavior. When delegated tasks
or authority, employees will experience more autonomy and
task identity, which makes them feel more responsible for
results and more sensitive to negative feedback (Krasman,
2013). Therefore, feedback-seeking behavior may not increase.
However, if delegation empowers employees psychologically,
employees may seek feedback more. This is because employees
will feel greatly motivated to achieve the task with high quality.
Delegation can boost their self-esteem and employees will be
less sensitive to negative feedback with more confidence to seek
feedback proactively.
Moreover, previous research has highlighted the importance
of the psychological process and motivation underlying the
feedback-seeking process (e.g., Ashford and Cummings, 1983;
Morrison and Bies, 1991;Tuckey et al., 2002). Empirical
studies have suggested that psychological empowerment
plays an important role in the feedback-seeking process
(e.g., Chen G. et al., 2007;Huang, 2012). For example, Huang
(2012) suggested psychological empowerment is positively
related to feedback-seeking behavior. Anseel and Lievens (2007)
called for more research on integrating the motives traditionally
used in the literature on seeking feedback (i.e., ego-based or
image-based motivation) with the social psychological literature
on self-motivation. We have responded to this call by examining
psychological empowerment as a potential mediator of the
relation between delegation and feedback-seeking. Accordingly,
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Hypothesis 3: Psychological empowerment mediates the
relationship between delegation and seeking feedback from
supervisors.
We also included power distance in our study in order to
explore whether it moderated the relationship between delegation
and feedback-seeking behavior. There is considerable individual-
level variation in power distance within organizations (Clugston
et al., 2000;Farh et al., 2007). Earlier research suggested that
power distance beliefs affect how people react to particular
leadership styles or behaviors (Eylon and Au, 1999;Brockner
et al., 2001;Kirkman et al., 2009). Following previous studies, we
operationalised power distance at the individual level as whether
or not the employee accepted the unequal distribution of power
in the organization (Clugston et al., 2000, p. 9). Employees
with high power distance regard the uneven social distribution
of power as natural and even desirable. They accept status
differences and have formal, less personal relationships with their
supervisors (Tyler et al., 2000). People with low power distance
believe that equality and justice are important and that power
should be more evenly distributed (Mueller and Wynn, 2000;
Yang et al., 2007).
We hypothesized that power distance moderates the
relationship between delegation and seeking of feedback, and
specifically that this relationship will be stronger in the context
of high power distance. High power distance employees believe
that people in powerful positions have more decision-making
power and they are more likely to be willing to comply with the
decisions of powerful others (Farh et al., 2007;Chen and Aryee,
2007). They may value leaders’ delegation of power more than
low power distance individuals and delegation may motivate
them to perform better and improve their skills and expertise
(Uhl-Bien et al., 2000). Hence delegation may prompt high
power distance employees to seek feedback more frequently,
in order to use the information to improve their skills and
performance.
Hypothesis 4: Power distance moderates the relationship between
delegation and seeking of feedback such that delegation has more
impact on feedback-seeking in high power distance individuals
than in lower power distance individuals.
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Participants and Procedure
The participants were employees of a hotel group in northern
China. Different questionnaires were administered to supervisors
and subordinates to minimize common method bias. With
the help of the hotel’s human resources department, we
distributed questionnaires to 64 supervisors at a training held for
supervisors. Then, assisted by the human resources department,
we randomly selected five subordinates for each supervisor,
totalling 320 subordinates. We assigned an identification
number to each questionnaire in order to match subordinates
with evaluations of their immediate supervisors. To ensure
confidentiality, we asked all respondents to seal their completed
questionnaire in an envelope and return it to the research
team at an all-employee company meeting held 2 weeks
after the questionnaires were distributed. The day before the
meeting, we sent text messages to participants instructing
them to place the envelope containing their completed
questionnaire in a special box at the entrance of the meeting
venue. Subordinates were asked to provide information about
their demographic variables, perceived supervisors’ delegation,
psychological empowerment and power distance, while their
supervisors were asked to rate the subordinates’ feedback seeking
behavior.
Of the questionnaires distributed to 64 supervisors, 57
questionnaires were completed, representing response rates of
89.06%. For those subordinates who have evaluation from their
supervisors, 248 questionnaires were completed, representing
response rates of 77.5%. For subordinates, the majority of the
participants were men (62.1%), the mean age of respondents
was 32.58 years (SD =8.28), and their mean organizational
tenure was 6.31 years (SD =3.99). The majority of subordinate
respondents (75.8%) had a bachelor’s degree, 8.5% of had only a
high school diploma and the rest had a master’s degree or higher
degree.
Measures
The original versions of the instruments we used were written
in English. We used a standard translation and back-translation
procedure (Brislin, 1980) to produce equivalent Chinese versions.
The Chinese questionnaire was subsequently pilot-tested on 20
employees of the participating organization who were excluded
from the final sample.
Delegation was assessed using a six-item scale developed
and validated by Schriesheim and Neider (1988) with response
options ranging from 1 (none of the time) to 5 (always). Sample
items include “My supervisor does not require that I get his/her
input or approval before making decisions” and “My supervisor
permits me to get the necessary information from him/her
and then make my own decisions.” The scale’s reliability was
0.84.
Psychological empowerment was assessed using Spreitzer
Spreitzer’s, (1995,1996)’s Psychological Empowerment Scale.
Responses were given using a five-point Likert scale ranging
from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Sample items
include “The work I do is meaningful” and “I am confident in
my ability to do my job.” High scores indicate greater perceived
psychological empowerment. The overall reliability of the scale
was 0.72.
Feedback-seeking behavior was assessed using a five-item
scale validated by VandeWalle et al. (2000). We asked supervisors
how frequently their subordinates asked for feedback about (1)
overall work performance, (2) technical performance in the job,
(3) the supervisors’ role expectations of them, (4) social behavior
and (5) whether supervisors felt that the subordinate’s values
and attitudes were appropriate for the firm. Responses were
given using a five-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (never) to 5
(always). The scale’s reliability was 0.83.
Power distance was assessed using a six-item measure of
power distance developed by Dorfman and Howell (1988).
Responses were given using a five-point Likert scale ranging from
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1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Sample items are “It is
frequently necessary for a manager to use authority and power
when dealing with subordinates,” “Managers should avoid off-
the-job social contacts with employees” and “Employees should
not disagree with management decisions.” The scale’s reliability
was 0.82.
Data Analysis Strategy
First we used AMOS 21.0 to examine the extent to which our
data were affected by common method bias. Next we examined
descriptive statistics, correlations among study variables and
demographic group differences in the study variables. Then
we used hierarchical regression to control for variance in
the demographic variables and test hypotheses 1–4. Structural
equation modeling was used to confirm the results of the
mediation test. All study variables were centered before indirect
effects tests.
RESULTS
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
We used AMOS to perform confirmatory factor analysis in
order to determine the proportion of variance attributable to
use of a common method. Following the recommendations
of Podsakoff et al. (2003) and the method used by Elangovan
and Xie (1999), we controlled for the effects of an unmeasured
latent methods factor. The AMOS analyses were run on
28 indicators with 4 trait factors and a methods factor. To
demonstrate that the results are not due to method effects,
the addition of a method factor to a t-traits factor model
must not significantly improve the fit of the model. The
overall chi-square fit statistics for the t-traits factor model
were: χ2(344) =2060.60, p=0.00; GFI =0.703. The overall
chi-square fit statistics for the model containing the t-traits
factors plus the methods factor were: χ2(343) =1721.54,
p=0.00, GFI =0.698. Although the overall chi-squared
statistic was significant for both models, the incremental
fit index yielded a rho of 0.032 which suggests that adding
the methods factor did not improve model fit significantly
(Bentler and Bonett, 1980). In summary, this suggests
that common method bias was not a serious problem in
our research. Respondents did differentiate between the
variables and that the results obtained in the analyses are
reliable.
Descriptive Statistics
Table 1 presents means, standard deviations and correlations
between the study variables. We also examined associations
between employees’ gender, age, education level and corporate
tenure and all the variables of interest. Delegation was positively
associated with psychological empowerment (r=0.26, p<0.01)
and with seeking of feedback (r=0.31, p<0.01). Psychological
empowerment was also positively associated with seeking of
feedback (r=0.36, p<0.01). Seeking feedback was positively
associated with education (r=0.14, p<0.05) and power
distance was negatively associated with education (r= −0.19,
p<0.05). The results of the correlation analysis generally
supported hypotheses 1–3.
Hypothesis Testing
Further analyses were conducted to provide a better estimate
of how well delegation predicted the outcome variables
and the extent to which these relationships were mediated
by psychological empowerment. We used Preacher and
Hayes’s (2008) procedure to examine whether psychological
empowerment mediated the association between delegation and
feedback-seeking behavior. They propose three criteria that must
be met before mediation can be inferred. First, the independent
variable should be correlated with mediator variable. Second,
after controlling for the effect of the independent variable on
the dependent variable, there should be a correlation between
the mediator variable and dependent variable. Finally, the
independent variable should have an indirect effect on the
dependent variable. Before the analyses all continuous predictors
were centered (Aiken and West, 1991).
As shown in Table 2 delegation predicted the feedback-
seeking behavior after controlling for the effect of demographic
variables (gender, age, education and tenure) (Model 3:
β=0.31, p<0.001). Similarly, delegation predicted psychological
empowerment (Model 1: β=0.24, p<0.001), and psychological
empowerment predicted the seeking of feedback (Model 2:
β=0.35, p<0.001). Thus, hypotheses 1 and 2 were supported.
Hierarchical regression was conducted to test for potential
mediation of the relationship between delegation and feedback-
seeking by psychological empowerment. First we entered the
control variables, then delegation and finally psychological
empowerment. As shown in Model 4 in Table 2, psychological
empowerment predicted feedback-seeking (β=0.29, p<0.01),
whilst delegation predicted the dependent variable (β=0.24,
p<0.001) albeit less powerfully (Model 3: β=0.31,
p<0.001). These findings are indicative of partial mediation;
delegation had an indirect effect on feedback-seeking that was
mediated by psychological empowerment as well as having
a direct effect on feedback-seeking. Thus, hypothesis 3 was
supported.
We used structural equation modeling to confirm the
results of the mediation analysis. The results of structural
equation modeling were similar to those of the hierarchical
regression analysis. We assessed the overall fit of the model
to the data using chi-squared and the goodness-of-fit index
(GFI), normed fit index (NFI), CFI, RMSEA and RMR. The
goodness-of-fit statistics supported the conclusion that the
hypothesized model was an adequate fit for the data (χ2=36.67,
p<0.05, df =23; χ2/df =1.594; CFI =0.98; NFI =0.95;
GFI =0.97; RMSEA =0.049; RMR =0.019). These results
provide compelling evidence that psychological empowerment is
a mediator of the relationship between delegation and seeking
of feedback. Figure 1 shows that the coefficient of the path
from delegation to psychological empowerment was marginally
significant (β=0.16, p=0.06), and the coefficients of the
paths from delegation (β=0.26, p<0.01) and psychological
empowerment (β=0.31, p<0.01) to feedback seeking were
significant.
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TABLE 1 | Means, standard deviations, and correlations.
M SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
(1) Gender 1.38 0.49
(2) age 32.58 8.28 0.00
(3) Education 2.08 0.50 000 0.09
(4) Company tenure 6.30 3.98 0.01 0.48∗∗ 0.07
(5) Delegation 4.21 0.49 0.06 0.04 0.08 0.03 (0.83)
(6) Psychological empowerment 3.88 0.34 0.09 0.06 0.12 0 0.26∗∗ (0.84)
(7) Power distance 3.13 0.87 0.06 0.03 0.19∗∗ 0.08 0.12 0.07 (0.72)
(8) Feedback-seeking behavior 3.82 0.61 0.01 0.12 0.140.1 0.31∗∗ 0.36∗∗ 0.02 (0.82)
n=248; p<0.05, ∗∗ p<0.01; Education: 1 =high school degree or an associated degree, 2 =bachelor degree, 3 =master degree, 4 =doctoral degree; Gender:
1=male, 2 =female.
TABLE 2 | Regression results for hypothesis tests.
Psychological empowerment as dependent variable Feedback seeking behavior as dependent variable
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5
Gender 0.08 0.02 0.01 0.03 0.02
Age 0.05 0.05 0.06 0.04 0.05
Education 0.09 0.09 0.11 0.08 0.12
Tenure 0.02 0.07 0.08 0.09 0.09
Delegation 0.24∗∗∗ 0.31∗∗∗ 0.24∗∗∗ 0.31∗∗∗
Psychological Empowerment 0.35∗∗∗ 0.29∗∗∗
Power Distance 0.10
Delegation ×Power Distance 0.16
R20.08 0.15 0.13 0.20 0.16
1R20.08 0.03
F4.38∗∗ 8.64∗∗∗ 6.95∗∗∗ 10.23∗∗∗ 6.36∗∗∗
1F23.4∗∗∗ 4.39∗∗
n=248; p<0.05, ∗∗p<0.01, ∗∗∗ p<0.001; values are standardized coefficient; 1R2and 1F showed in models 4 and 5 is based on model 3.
FIGURE 1 | Results of structural equation modeling on the mediating effect of psychological empowerment.
We tested hypothesis 4 using the procedure described by
(Olson et al., 2007). We created linear–linear interaction terms
by multiplying the proposed moderator (power distance) by
delegation. After entering the main effects and control variables
into the equation, the multiplicative terms were added. The
regression weights for the multiplicative terms were then
examined for significance. The results are presented as model 5
in Table 2. Power distance moderated the influence of delegation
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Zhang et al. Delegation and Feedback Seeking Behavior
FIGURE 2 | Delegation and feedback seeking by power distance.
on feedback seeking behavior (β=0.14, p<0.05). As shown
in Figure 2, delegation is more likely to increase the seeking of
feedback for individuals with medium and high power distance,
than for individuals with low power distance. Thus, hypothesis 4
was supported.
DISCUSSION
We developed and tested a model linking delegation with
employees’ seeking of feedback from supervisors by investigating
the underlying mechanisms of the associations and their
boundary conditions. The results revealed that: (1) delegation
is positively associated with psychological empowerment;
(2) psychological empowerment is positively associated with
feedback-seeking; (3) psychological empowerment mediates the
relationship between delegation and feedback-seeking and (4)
power distance moderates the relationship between delegation
and psychological empowerment.
Our research contributes to the literature on seeking feedback
and extends previous research in the following ways. First, as
Bass said, “delegation implies that one has been empowered
by one’s superior to take responsibility for certain activities”
(Bass, 1990, p. 437). It used to be thought that delegation
was very closely related to the concept of empowerment (e.g.,
Locke and Schweiger, 1979;Miller and Monge, 1986;Cotton,
1988, 1993), but a clear distinction is now drawn between them
(e.g., Sigler and Pearson, 2000;Niehoff et al., 2001;Randolph
and Kemery, 2011;Frazier and Fainshmidt, 2012;Maynard
et al., 2014) and there have been few studies demonstrating an
association between them. Our findings provide evidence that
delegating power to an individual is positively associated with the
psychological empowerment of that individual.
Second, psychological empowerment is essential to
organizational effectiveness (Mathieu et al., 2006): it is positively
associated with innovation, happiness, production, motivation,
loyalty, effective problem solving and coordination between
functions (e.g., Spreitzer, 1995;Sigler and Pearson, 2000;Niehoff
et al., 2001;Laschinger et al., 2002;Molix and Bettencourt, 2010;
Zhang and Bartol, 2010;Seibert et al., 2011). There is, however,
little empirical research demonstrating that psychological
empowerment increases the frequency with which employees
seek feedback from supervisors. Our findings extend previous
research by demonstrating that psychological empowerment is
positively associated with the seeking of feedback.
Third, our research has significant theoretical implications for
the emerging strand of research into how leaders can influence
employees’ feedback-seeking behavior. Earlier research examined
the extent to which individual characteristics such as desire
for useful information, learning goal orientation and high self-
esteem drive employees to seek feedback at work (e.g., Fedor et al.,
2001;Tuckey et al., 2002;Bernichon et al., 2003;Anseel et al.,
2015). However, there have been relatively few empirical studies
into leader behaviors and managerial techniques that encourage
employees to seek feedback. As the popularity of non-hierarchical
organizational structures has increased, delegation has become
an increasingly popular way of empowering employees. It is
becoming more and more common for successful companies
to attract employees by giving them more freedom to work
autonomously and greater involvement in decision-making. We
investigated the extent to which a supervisor’s delegation of
power increased subordinates’ tendency to seek feedback and
assessed the extent to which this relationship was mediated
by psychological empowerment and thus filled the gap in the
literature.
Previous research suggested that power distance can provide
a boundary condition for leadership’s influence on subordinates’
attitudes and behavior (e.g., Eylon and Au, 1999;Kirkman et al.,
2009;Fock et al., 2012). It may influence the relationship between
delegation and subordinates’ seeking of feedback, but the nature
of the relationship remains unknown. Our results showed that
power distance moderates the effect of delegation on seeking of
feedback. Specifically, delegating power to subordinates with a
moderate to high power distance increases the frequency with
which they seek feedback, but delegating power to subordinates
with a lower power distance does not. This result indicates that
individuals with a higher power distance tend to respond more
positively to delegation. Because they regard the uneven social
distribution of power as natural and even desirable, when leaders
delegate, they may value this action more and take it more
seriously than low power distance individuals. Thus, they may
seek feedback more frequently in the following process.
Practical Contributions
Our theoretical model and empirical findings have important
implications for managers and human resources practitioners.
First, our model suggests that delegation of power by a supervisor
can be psychologically empowering for employees and thus
increase their tendency to seek feedback from supervisors. It
proposes a useful managerial technique to promote subordinates’
feedback seeking behavior. Managers and human resources
practitioners may want to encourage leaders to delegate more
tasks and authority to subordinates in order to encourage them
to seek feedback.
Our study also suggests that the effectiveness of the managerial
technique of delegation depends on the power distance between
leaders and subordinates. Delegating power to employees who
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Zhang et al. Delegation and Feedback Seeking Behavior
believe there is a high power distance between them and
the leaders makes them more likely to seek feedback from
supervisors and so we particularly recommend that leaders in
high power distance organizations should delegate more and
increase subordinates’ involvement in decision-making process.
Promoting the seeking of feedback by employees in this way
is useful, because feedback helps employees to evaluate the
adequacy and appropriateness of their work behavior and
improve their performance (Ashford et al., 2003;Whitaker et al.,
2007).
Limitations and Future Research
There are some limitations to our study. First of all, the
design we employed can be used to infer causal relationships.
Further quasi-experimental or longitudinal research would be
needed to determine causality. Second, we only investigated
one method of promoting the seeking of feedback, namely
use of delegation. In future researchers could explore other
techniques for encouraging employees to seek feedback, for
example mentoring (e.g., Allen et al., 2010). Third, our sample
consisted of Chinese employees and power distance is considered
to be high in China, so the generalisability of the findings is
limited. We suggest that future researchers attempt to replicate
our findings in samples from other cultures, particularly cultures
with lower power distance.
CONCLUSION
Leaders in organizations often face the challenge of encouraging
subordinates to seek feedback, because feedback plays a critical
role in improving job performance. Our study suggests that
delegation is an effective way of encouraging subordinates to
seek feedback, because it is psychologically empowering. Our
results also highlight that the efficacy of delegation as a method
of increasing the seeking of feedback is contingent on employees’
individual cultural value of power distance.
ETHICS STATEMENT
All procedures performed in studies involving human
participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of
the institutional and/or national research committee and with
the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or
comparable ethical standards with written informed consent
from all subjects. This study was approved by the Human
Protection and Research Ethics Committee at Business School,
Beijing Normal University.
AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS
XZ and JQ substantially contributed to the conception and
the design of the work as well as in the analysis and
interpretation of the data. XZ prepared the draft, JQ, BW, and ZJ
reviewed it critically and gave important intellectual input. Other
contributing authors (JW and YW) reviewed the manuscript and
gave comments on it.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We would like to thank the participating company and support
of the human resource management department. We would also
like to thank the financial support of National Natural Science
Foundation of China (project 71672012).
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Conflict of Interest Statement: The authors declare that the research was
conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could
be construed as a potential conflict of interest.
Copyright © 2017 Zhang, Qian, Wang, Jin, Wang and Wang. This is an open-access
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Frontiers in Psychology | www.frontiersin.org 10 June 2017 | Volume 8 | Article 920
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Task complexity is one of the main factors studied by academics and is at the center of leaders’ concerns. It is related to delegation and flexibility, which are enhanced by workers’ engagement and depend on how leadership is shared. In this context, this research was carried out with the main objective of testing the serial mediating effect of engagement and shared leadership on the relationship between task complexity and flexibility and the relationship between task complexity and delegation. The sample for this study consists of 368 participants, all of whom work in organizations based in Portugal. The results indicate that task complexity is positively and significantly associated with engagement, shared leadership, flexibility, and delegation. Shared leadership has a positive and significant association with flexibility and delegation. The serial mediating effect of engagement and shared leadership on the relationship between task complexity and flexibility was confirmed. The serial mediating effect of engagement and shared leadership on the relationship between task complexity and delegation was not confirmed.
... An empowered employee has ability of self controland problem-solving skills and more concerns for organizational goodwill. Hence, through good employee relationships practices, can increase employee participation and involvement in environmental activities such as saving water and energy during various activities at the hotel workplace (Xiyang, et al., 2017). Every organization must emphasize on building healthy relations with employees as it's very crucial to promote sustainable growth & development. ...
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The global pandemic COVID-19 has taught us to be more sensitive for environmental protection and sustainability of natural resources. Adverse environment conditions are giving us so many threats in the form of climate changes that leads to negative impact not only on ecosystem but also on human health. To consider the threats, researcher attempted to evaluate and identify the Green HR practices and their implementation in the hotel industry. Under this review study, the researcher discusses the meaning and significance of implementing green HR practices along with their imperative benefits in the hotel industry. This study revealed six major scopes of the execution of green HR practices in the hotel industry. To carry out this study researcher reviewed sixty-three research articles of the recent ten years, published in national and international Books, Journals, and websites.
... This also highlights the persistent issue of imbalance in the allocation of resources for utilization despite being the central function of healthcare delivery systems (14). Appropriate delegation of duties matching the amount of responsibility with capability and authority, with regular feedback, will help in empowering colleagues to reach their potential (17). Work-personal life harmony is particular to every individual and thus attainment of a 'balance', if it exists, is a very subjective feeling, explaining the reluctance of poll-respondents in answering the question (18). ...
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Background: Urology, traditionally a maledominated specialty, keeping pace with the quickly changing gender landscape, has been characterized by waves of feminization. This study aims to understand the perspectives of women urologists on the obstacles to their career development, and the impact of such hurdles on their professional roles in urological education, practice, and leadership. Methods: 119 female urology residents/consultants were surveyed via a webinar-based platform, covering relevant questions on domains of Academia, Mentorship, Leadership, Parenting, and Charity. Statistical analysis was done using frequency distribution based on the responses. Results: 46.8% of the respondents felt that there is an under-representation of women in academia. ‘Having a good mentor’ was the most important factor for a novice to succeed in academia (68%). The most important trait in becoming a good leader was ‘good communication skills’ (35%), followed by ‘visionary’ (20%). The greatest challenge faced by leaders in the medical field was considered as ‘time management’ (31.9%). Only 21.2% of the participants felt difficulty in having a work-personal life balance, whereas 63.8% of them found it difficult only ‘sometimes’. As a working parent, ‘the guilt that they are not available all the time’ was considered the most difficult aspect (59.5%), and ‘more flexible schedule’ was needed to make their lives as a working parent easier (46.8%). 34% of the respondents were affiliated with some charitable organizations. The biggest drive to do charity was their satisfaction with a noble cause (72.3%). Conclusions: Need for increased encouragement and recruitment of females into urology, and to support and nurture them in their career aspirations.
... Empowerment is more than just the act of delegating. Empowerment also includes the support of risk, fosters a change in the cultural paradigm of the organization, and contributes to personal growth (Zhang et al., 2017). In the context of Management 3.0, it becomes very relevant to understand the level of delegation maturity followed by the teams. ...
Chapter
Traditional management models reveal issues with the introduction of unnecessary hierarchies, slow decision making, among other obstacles, which left a large number of workers out of the process of seeking efficiency and growth. In this sense, the third generation of management models focused on agility and collaboration emerged. Instead of focusing on hierarchies and functions, there is a priority on the way people behave and relate. In this sense, this study aims to analyze this phenomenon and to understand the various dimensions of Management 3.0. Furthermore, it intends to explore and understand the practices and challenges that are posed in its business implementation, focusing on the role of people and information and communication technologies.
... As a developmental tool, it equally provides the framework for organizational development by identifying employees with saleable managerial skills, who may be categorized as management materials, for the purposes of higher leadership responsibilities in the organization. As shown in this conceptual model, performance appraisal provides the right motivational tool necessary for higher performance by allowing appraisees' to know how well they have fared in the past through the feedback mechanism (VandeWalle et al., 2000;Whitaker et al., 2007;Zhang et al., 2017). Performance appraisal also enhances employee motivation by ensuring that conditions of employment are so arranged that the immediate needs of employees are satisfied and that conditions in the workplace are such as will provide positive challenges to the employees. ...
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... Therefore, emotional intelligence is of necessity in mediating between role pressures from family and work or from work and family that results to reducing stress and leading to improved productivity. Reducing work-family role conflict is a fundamental component of emotionally intelligent behaviour that goes a long way to enhancing effective human resource management and helping organizational people to keep their minds and hands on the pulse of the greater organization (Barnett and Hyde, 2001;Heymann, 2000;2005;Kossek and Ozeki, 1998;Ugoani, 2013;2015;Woodruffe, 1998;Wright and A., 1998;Youndt, 2000;Zeidner and Matthews, 2017;Zhang et al., 2017). ...
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... This result with match with Zhang et al.( 2017) who revealed that delegation is positively associated with empowerment. Also, in the same line with Onsardi (2018) and Dede, (2018) who concluded that there is a association between empowerment and employee loyalty. ...
Research Proposal
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Background: Nowadays, healthcare organizations consider delegation as a critical issue for achievement of job empowerment and loyalty. Aim: To assess nurses' perception regarding nurse managers' delegation skills and its relation to their job empowerment and loyalty Design: Descriptive correlational design was utilized. Setting: Study was conducted at New Kaser El-Aini Teaching Hospital. Subjects: Convenient sample of staff nurses (118) who were providing direct care and willing to take part into the study. Tools: Three developed questionnaires were used for data collection: delegation skills (29 items), job empowerment (23 items) and job loyalty (12 items). Results: The study findings conclude that nurses were highly perceived all the dimensions of delegation skills (mean % = 85.44). Around half of them had low (42.4%) empowerment level, one third of the nurses (34.7%, 33.9% & 31.4%) respectively perceived low, medium and high level of loyalty. There was a positive statistical significant correlation between nurses perception of nurse manager delegation skills, and their empowerment and loyalty (P=0.00). Recommendations: Hospital administrators should generate a strategic plan to improve nurses' empowerment and loyalty level, develop essential guidelines for delegation, and design educational program for nurse about duties and instructions of delegated tasks.
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Relying on self-determination theory, this study investigates the mediating role of psychological empowerment in the relationship between self-leadership and work role performance (task proficiency, task adaptivity, and task proactivity) in remote work settings. It also explores whether and how supervisor close monitoring moderates the indirect impact of self-leadership on work role performance. Hypotheses were tested using a two-study design including white-collar employees from a broad range of jobs and companies (Study 1) and employee-supervisor dyads working in small and medium-sized firms (Study 2) in Turkey. In Study 1, results showed that self-leadership had a positive indirect effect on employees’ work role performance through psychological empowerment. In Study 2, the cross-lagged two-wave design provided support for this indirect effect while demonstrating partial support for the moderating role of supervisor close monitoring. The current study contributes to research on self-leadership and work role performance by providing a detailed understanding of the motivational process through which self-leadership leads to increased work role performance. It also offers practical insights for enhancing self-leaders’ work role performance, particularly within the remote work context.
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Despite an increasing number of studies that show a positive relationship between the supportiveness of a feedback source and feedback seeking, little is known about the impact of supervisors’ demonstration of feedback-seeking behavior on promoting employees seeking feedback from them. In addition, although previous studies have shown that feedback seeking is an interactive process and is emotionally charged, to our knowledge, no studies have investigated the role that the source’s emotion regulation played in the feedback seeker’s seeking frequency. The present article developed a moderated mediation model to fill this void and tested it with data from a sample of 215 supervisor–subordinate dyads from China. We hypothesized and found that supervisors’ feedback seeking from subordinates were positively related to subordinates’ feedback seeking from supervisors, mediated by the perceived value and cost of the feedback seeking. The results also supported the moderating roles of supervisors’ emotion regulation in the mediation model.
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A longitudinal design was used to test Kanter's (1977) work empowerment theory in a random sample of185 staff nurses. Kanter argues that work environments which provide access to information, support, resources, and opportunity to learn and develop are empowering and influence employee work attitudes and organizational effectiveness. A model linking changes in structural and psychological empowerment to changes in job satisfaction at two time periods was proposed to test these relationships over time. The Conditions of Work Effectiveness Questionnaire-II, Psychological Empowerment Scale and a global measure of job satisfaction were used. Structural equation modeling analyses revealed a good fit of the data to the hypothesized model. Changes in perceptions of structural empowerment had direct effects on changes in psychological empowerment (.38) and on changes in job satisfaction (.70). Changes in psychological empowerment did not directly affect changes in job satisfaction (-.08). That is, changes in nurses' perceived access to workplace empowerment structures across time affected changes in their feelings of psychological empowerment and job satisfaction over the same time frame. However, changes in psychological empowerment did not add further explanatory variance in job satisfaction beyond that explained by structural empowerment. Taken together with past cross-sectional research, these results suggest that fostering environments that enhance perceptions of empowerment can have enduring positive effects on organizational members across time.
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Interest in the problem of method biases has a long history in the behavioral sciences. Despite this, a comprehensive summary of the potential sources of method biases and how to control for them does not exist. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which method biases influence behavioral research results, identify potential sources of method biases, discuss the cognitive processes through which method biases influence responses to measures, evaluate the many different procedural and statistical techniques that can be used to control method biases, and provide recommendations for how to select appropriate procedural and statistical remedies for different types of research settings.