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Transformational leadership and employee knowledge sharing: explore the mediating roles of psychological safety and team efficacy

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Purpose This paper aims—based on past research works which have shown that transformational leadership has positive impact on knowledge sharing—to explore the impact of different leadership dimensions of transformational leadership on knowledge sharing and further to explore the mechanism through which transformational leadership affects employee knowledge sharing in China. Design/methodology/approach Based on the transformational leadership theory and the team learning theory, it is proposed that all four dimensions of transformational leadership, including intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration, inspirational motivation and idealized influence, have unique impact on employee knowledge sharing. It is further proposed that psychology safety and team efficacy mediate these relationships. Then data were collected from over 400 employees from knowledge-based companies in China to empirically test the proposed relationships with the method of structural equation modeling. Findings The results show that psychological safety fully mediated the impact of intellectual stimulation on knowledge sharing, and team efficacy fully mediated the impact of inspirational motivation on knowledge sharing. Both factors also mediated the impact of individualized consideration on knowledge sharing. The results thus provide empirical support for the impact of transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing in an international context. Originality/value The past years have seen increasing interest in leadership and knowledge sharing in emerging markets, yet the mechanism through which leadership affects employee knowledge sharing remains understudied. This study explores the impact of different dimensions of transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing, and further shows that psychological safety and team efficacy mediate these relationships in a collectivistic society where knowledge sharing is consistent with cultural norms. The findings help develop more robust knowledge sharing theories in the international context and provide insightful suggestions for management practitioners in emerging markets.
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Transformational leadership and employee knowledge sharing: Explore the mediating
roles of psychological safety and team efficacy
Jielin Yin
School of Economics and Management
Beijing Information Science & Technology University
Beijing, China
Zhenzhong Ma
Nanjing Audit University
Nanjing, China
Odette School of Business
University of Windsor
401 Windsor, Ontario, Canada N9E 4Z4
maz@uwindsor.ca
Haiyun Yu
School of Business
Jiangnan University, Wuxi, China
Muxiao Jia
Ganli Liao
School of Economics and Management
Beijing Information Science & Technology University
Beijing, China
Citation: Yin, J., Ma, Z., Yu, H., Jia, M., & Liao, G. (2019). Transformational leadership and
employee knowledge sharing: Explore the mediating roles of psychological safety and team
efficacy. Journal of Knowledge Management, 24(2), 150-171.
Corresponding author: Dr. Zhenzhong Ma, maz@uwindsor.ca. This study was partially funded by the grants from the National Natural
Science Foundation of China (Grant# 71572027, 71602006, 71801017, & 71802025), a grant from the Beijing Social Science Fund project
(Grant#: 18JDGLB030), a grant from the MOE (Ministry of Education in China) Project of Humanities and Social Sciences (Grant#:
17YJC630107), and a grant from the Centre for Asia-Pacific Studies, University of Windsor (Grant#: 816058).
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Transformational leadership and employee knowledge sharing: Explore the mediating
roles of psychological safety and team efficacy
Abstract
Purpose – Previous studies have shown that transformational leadership has positive
impact on knowledge sharing. This study is intended to build on past research to
explore the impact of different leadership dimensions of transformational leadership
on knowledge sharing and further to explore the mechanism through which
transformational leadership affects employee knowledge sharing in China.
Design/methodology/approach Based on the transformational leadership theory
and the team learning theory, it is proposed that all four dimensions of
transformational leadership, including intellectual stimulation, individualized
consideration, inspirational motivation, and idealized influence have unique impact
on employee knowledge sharing. It is further proposed that psychology safety and
team efficacy mediate these relationships. Then we collected data from over 400
employees from knowledge-based companies in China to empirically test the
proposed relationships with the method of structural equation modeling.
Findings The results show that psychological safety fully mediated the impact of
intellectual stimulation on knowledge sharing, and team efficacy fully mediated the
impact of inspirational motivation on knowledge sharing. Both factors also mediated
the impact of individualized consideration on knowledge sharing. The results thus
provide empirical support for the impact of transformational leadership on employee
knowledge sharing in an international context.
Value The past years have seen increasing interest in leadership and knowledge
sharing in emerging markets, yet the mechanism through which leadership affects
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employee knowledge sharing remains under studied. This study explores the impact
of different dimensions of transformational leadership on employee knowledge
sharing, and further shows that psychological safety and team efficacy mediate these
relationships in a collectivistic society where knowledge sharing is consistent with
cultural norms. The findings help develop more robust knowledge sharing theories in
the international context and provide insightful suggestions for management
practitioners in emerging markets.
Keywords: China, knowledge sharing, psychological safety, team efficacy,
transformational leadership.
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INTRODUCTION
Knowledge and intellectual capital have become increasingly important in the era of knowledge
economy (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002; Del Giudice and Maggioni, 2014; du Plessis, 2007; Li,
Shang, Liu, and Xi, 2014; Ma and Yu, 2010; Ma and Tang, 2018; Nonaka, 1994; Tohidinia and
Mosakhani, 2010), and knowledge management capability has thus become the most critical
measure of an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage (Lin, Wu, and Lu, 2012; Ma,
Huang, Wu, Dong, and Qi, 2014; Ma and Yu, 2010; Nonaka, 1994). Research has examined and
identified important knowledge management activities, and knowledge sharing as one of the key
factors has proven to play an important role in determining an organization’s knowledge
management abilities and further its effectiveness (Alavi and Leidner 2001; Lin et al., 2012; Ma,
et al., 2014). However, knowledge sharing is often very difficult (Nonaka, 1994; Ruggles, 1998)
because knowledge is usually considered a valuable source of competitiveness and individuals
are often reluctant to share their knowledge (Lin et al., 2012; Ma and Tang, 2018; Ma et al., 2014;
Nonaka, 1994).
In response to the challenges in knowledge sharing, knowledge management research has
focused on identifying critical antecedents of knowledge sharing (Berraies and El Abidine,
2019Cummings, 2004; deVries, Hoof, and Ridder, 2006; Gruenfeld, Mannix, Williams, and
Neale, 1996; Kurt, Birgit, Muller, Herting, and Mooradian, 2008; Le and Lei, 2019; Lin et al.,
2012; Park, Lee and Lee, 2015; Siemsen, Roth, and Balasubramanian, 2009; Stasser, Vaughan,
and Stewart, 2000), and a growing number of studies have turned their attentions to the impact of
leadership on knowledge sharing (Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Bryant, 2003; Connelly and
Kelloway, 2003; Le and Lei, 2019; Li et al., 2014; Nguyen and Mohamed, 2011; Qian et al.,
2019; Shariq, Mukhtar, and Anwar, 2019; Srivastava, Bartol, and Locke, 2006; Wong, Tjosvold,
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and Lu, 2010; Xue, Bradley, and Liang, 2011; Yang, 2007, 2010), in particular the impact of
transformational leadership on knowledge sharing (Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Bryant, 2003;
Li et al., 2014; Liu and DeFrank, 2013; Lorinkova and Perry, 2019; Shih, Chiang, and Chen,
2012; Xiao, Zhang, and Ordóñez de Pablos, 2017). For instance, research has already shown that
transformational leadership can facilitate knowledge sharing and individual learning within
organizations (Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Le and Hui, 2019; Li et al., 2014; Wong et al.,
2010; Xiao et al., 2017). However, while research on knowledge management has provided
evidence for a positive relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing
(Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Bryant, 2003; Li et al., 2014; Liu and DeFrank, 2013; Shih et al.,
2012), contemporary research on transformational leadership and knowledge sharing has largely
treated transformational leadership as a broad concept, rather than as a multi-dimensional
construct (Gowen, Henagan, and McFadden, 2009; Li et al, 2014; Wong et al., 2010), and thus
failed to consider the unique impact of different dimensions of transformational leadership on
employee knowledge sharing and our understanding on why transformational leadership affect
knowledge sharing is not adequate. Furthermore, research on transformational leadership has
rarely considered the mediating factors in the process of knowledge sharing and thus the
mechanism on how transformational leadership affects knowledge sharing has also remained
unclear (Le and Hui, 2019; Li et al., 2014; Qian et al., 2019; Xiao et al., 2017).
In addition, the increasingly globalized world economy has underlined the importance of
cultural diversity in todays workforces and further its influence on knowledge management.
With more national economies opened to and integrated with the global market, people with
different cultural values have often come together to work as heterogeneous groups such as in
multinationals. It is thus important to explore knowledge management and its impact on
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organization performance in a variety of cultural contexts. However, there is a paucity in current
literature on the impact of transformational leadership and knowledge management practice in
the international context (Ma et al., 2014), and it is less clear on how people share their
knowledge in different cultural contexts (Le and Hui, 2019; Ma and Tang, 2018; Yang, 2010).
To help bridge this gap in knowledge management research, our study is intended to adopt
the transformational leadership framework (Bass, 1999) and the team learning theory
(Edmondson, 1999) to examine the link between the four unique dimensions of transformational
leadership and knowledge sharing with the focus on the mechanism through which these four
dimensions affect knowledge sharing. Specifically, we propose that every dimension of
transformational leadership has unique influence on employee knowledge sharing, and this
influence is further mediated by employee’s perceived psychological safety and team efficacy
(Wong et al., 2010) because research has shown that psychological safety and team efficacy
encourages individuals’ open sharing of knowledge and reflection of experiences (Chen et al.,
2012; Wong et al., 2010).
This study will also attempt to explore the relationship between transformational leadership
and knowledge sharing in an international context with the data from China, one of the most
important emerging markets. China is a powerful test of the universality aspiration of the
knowledge management theories developed in the West, in particular of their utility in
understanding the conditions and dynamics through which transformational leadership affects
employee knowledge sharing (Ma, Qi, Wang, 2008), because the Chinese are highly
collectivistic (Hofstede, 2001), and they are more likely to place group interests and collective
good above individual benefits. Therefore, it may be the case that Chinese employees are more
likely to share their knowledge with their colleagues while less likely to worry about losing their
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superiority and ownership of the knowledge caused by knowledge sharing, different from the
West where individual interests are of upmost importance and thus one’s own benefits from
proprietary knowledge are more important than organizational benefits from knowledge sharing
(Yang, 2010). However, relatively few studies have examined the relationship between
transformational leadership and knowledge sharing in China (Ma et al., 2014).
The findings of this study will be able to provide a more integrated theoretical model to
examine the impact of transformational leadership on knowledge sharing. This study can help
bridge current research gap by exploring the impact of different leadership dimensions of
transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing, which helps answer the question on
what leadership elements facilitate knowledge sharing in order to design better intervention
programs. This study also explores the mediating effect of psychological safety and team
efficacy on the impact of transformational leadership on knowledge sharing, which helps answer
the question on how transformational leaders affect employee knowledge sharing. In addition,
this study examines knowledge sharing in the context of China. Therefore, the results can also
enrich our understanding of knowledge management in the international context and offer
insightful suggestions to knowledge management practitioners and international managers,
which is crucially important for the globalized world market.
LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESES
Knowledge sharing is often defined as “a social interaction culture, involving the exchange of
employee knowledge, experiences, and skills through the whole department or organization”
(Lin, 2007, p. 315; Ma and Yu, 2010). Having knowledge shared with the right people at the
right time is critical in building and sustaining an organization’s competitiveness (Gowen et al.,
2009; Ma et al., 2014). It has been suggested that knowledge sharing within an organization
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provides an opportunity for mutual learning, facilitating the creation of new knowledge, and
enhancing the organization’s ability to generate new ideas (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002Kessel,
Kratzer and Schultz, 2012; Ma et al., 2014; Ma and Tang, 2018; Nonaka, 1994; Tsai and
Ghoshal, 1998). Successful exchange of knowledge can help organizations develop a knowledge
base for generating new solutions, new approaches, or new products (Ma and Tang, 2018;
Nonaka, 1994). Therefore, knowledge sharing is a fundamental process through which
organizational members can contribute to organizational success (Kankanhalli, Tan and Wei,
2005; Park et al., 2015).
However, despite the importance of knowledge sharing to an organization’s success, the
“unwillingness to share knowledge” attitudes, intentions, and behaviors often found among
employees have posed great challenges in knowledge sharing: employees often feel insecure in
knowledge sharing (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002; Ma et al., 2014; Park et al., 2015). Employees
are fearful of the loss of superiority and knowledge ownership after sharing their knowledge
(Bartol and Srivastava, 2002; Yang, 2010). In addition, employees are also anxious of being
despised or rejected by their supervisors and colleagues if they share their bad experiences,
mistakes or failures, wherein they may face the risk of being looked down or separated by
supervisors and colleagues, even being laid off (Cameron, 2002; Yang, 2010). As a result, a
better understanding of knowledge sharing in order to design effective incentives and creating
right policies for employees to share more knowledge has received increased interests from
organization scholars and knowledge management practitioners.
The impact of transformational leadership on knowledge sharing
Transformational leadership, one of the key leadership styles in the management practice, has
proven to have a positive impact on followers’ attitudes, behaviors and individual developments
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(Bass, 1985; Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Dvir, Eden, Avolio, and Shamir, 2002). Various
researchers have suggested that the transformational leadership theory has greatly broadened
today’s leadership research (Jung, Chow and Wu, 2003; Mittal and Dhar, 2015). According to
the transformational leadership theory, transformational leadership consists of four unique
dimensions, namely idealized influence (or charisma), inspirational motivation, intellectual
stimulation, and individualized consideration (Avolio, Bass, and Jung, 1999; Bass, 1999;
Nemanich and Keller, 2007; Shao and Webber, 2006). Within this framework, idealized
influence refers to the characteristic demonstrated by a transformational leader who tries to serve
as a role model for followers who consequently respect and trust the leader and attempt to
emulate the leader’s behaviors. Inspirational motivation suggests that a leader inspires followers
by articulating visions that are appealing to them and then motivates them to embrace and
achieve these visions. These two dimensions reflect the charismatic features of a
transformational leader. Intellectual stimulation shows that a leader encourages followers to
challenge existent norms and take risks by addressing problems in a novel way (Hu et al., 2012).
Individualized consideration refers to the process by which a leader motivates followers by
paying close attention to followers’ needs and listening to their concerns to help them develop
and grow (Hoffman, Bynum, Piccolo, and Sutton, 2011). By engaging in these transformational
leadership behaviors, a leader can transform followers’ attitudes and behaviors, foster a value for
change, thereby promote changes and augment the followersprofessional growth (Carmeli,
Sheaffer, Binyamin, Reiter-Palmon and Shimoni, 2014).
Employees are usually unwilling to share knowledge with others without strong motivation
since they perceive their personal knowledge as a source of advantage and power (Boer, Berends,
and Baalen, 2011; Li, Shang, Liu and Xi, 2014; Ma et al., 2014). Scholars in the knowledge
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management field have examined a lot of factors that could possible influence knowledge
sharing in organizations, among which transformational leadership is found to play an important
role in promoting knowledge sharing through inspiring employees’ motivations (Bryant, 2003;
Li et al., 2014). Consistent with the findings in previous studies (Berraies and El Abidine, 2019
Le and Lei, 2019; Shariq et al., 2019), it is expected in this study that transformational leadership
can encourage knowledge sharing because a transformational leader can transform followers’
attitudes and behaviors and foster a value for change (Carmeli et al., 2014). With a new vision or
an idea of change for a better future in mind, followers are more willing to take on a
transformational leader’s call to share their knowledge with other group members so that they
can work together to change the status quo and further to achieve a better future for the
organization and for every individual member.
While many studies have found a positive relationship between transformational leadership
and employee knowledge sharing (Berraies and El Abidine, 2019Gowen et al., 2009; Le and
Lei, 2019; Li et al., 2014; Liu and DeFrank, 2013; Shariq et al., 2019; Shih et al., 2012;), these
studies have largely considered transformational leadership as a broad concept and failed to
differentiate the unique influence of each transformational leadership dimension on employee
knowledge sharing. Treating transformational leadership as a four-dimensional construct rather
than a broad concept could provide a more nuance understanding on the impact of leadership on
knowledge sharing (Xiao et al., 2017), and thus the transformational leadership theory provides a
solid foundation to explore the relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge
sharing. It is argued in this study that the four dimensions of transformational leadership each
induces employee knowledge sharing. The first dimension of transformational leadership,
idealized influence, suggests that leaders are considered most ethical, respectful, trustable, and
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admirable, which thus can have great personal influence on employees (Bass, 1999; Bass et al.,
2003). Leaders who are perceived to possess the characteristic of idealized influence always have
more attraction to their followers as role models so that their followers are willing to take on
risk-taking job activities and sacrifice their own interests for the collective good (Birasnav,
Rangnekar, and Dalpati, 2011; Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Moorman, and Fetter, 1990; van
Knippenberg and van Knippenberg, 2005), which is even more prominent in China where the
collective good is often more important than individual interests. Therefore, it is expected that
the idealized influence dimension of transformational leadership can lead employees to identify
with their leaders and organizations, become more willing to cooperate with their colleagues for
a common goal and feel that their own interests will not be harmed by sharing knowledge with
their colleagues, and consequently generate a sense of group belongingness and cohesion (Shih,
et al., 2012; Podsakoff et al., 1990; van Knippenberg and van Knippenberg, 2005). Pushed by the
motivation of cooperating with colleagues for a common goal, by the belief that a leader and
colleagues are worth trusting, and with the sense of group belongingness, employees are more
willing to share their knowledge with others. Therefore, it is proposed that
Hypothesis 1a: The dimension of idealized influence is positively related to
employee knowledge sharing in China.
The second dimension of transformational leadership, inspirational motivation, describes
how leaders motivate employees to perform beyond expectations through articulating and
shaping a common compelling vision (Bass 1985; Bass et al., 2003). When employees share a
common vision, they recognize that any assistance they offer to their colleagues in helping them
with jobs would also contribute to the achievement of their shared goals (Shih et al., 2012).
Furthermore, leaders possessing the characteristic of inspirational motivation can successfully
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transform the focus of their followers from self-interests to an integral collective concern and
inspire them to perform beyond their duties and engage in altruistic behaviors (e.g., helping their
coworkers) (Rubin, Munz, and Bommer, 2005). It is noted that knowledge sharing is voluntary
and unlikely to take place without proper motivation (Ipe, 2003). However, under the influence
of a shared vision, it is expected that the followers under the influence of inspirational motivation
are more willing to share their personal knowledge with others. And sharing knowledge would
no longer be an optional but an obligatory behavior to achieve the commonly set vision, a
common behavior in collectivistic cultures such as in China (Ohana and Meyer, 2010). Therefore,
it is hypothesized that:
Hypothesis 1b: The dimension of inspirational motivation is positively related to
employee knowledge sharing in China.
The third dimension of transformational leadership, intellectual stimulation, explains how
transformational leaders promote their employees’ innovative and creative skills by solving
problems in an entirely new way without criticizing employees for mistakes (Bass, 1999; Bass et
al., 2003; Birasnav et al., 2012). Leaders who intellectually stimulate employees often encourage
them to solve problems in a unique way and drive them to challenge traditional beliefs and
values (Birasnav et al., 2012). When employees are permitted to view things from different
perspectives and solve problems without worrying about making mistakes, they tend to value the
opinions of their colleagues and express their own opinions freely (Shih et al., 2012; Amabile,
Conti, Coon, Hazenby, and Herron, 1996). Accordingly, they are more likely to interact and
share their knowledge with their coworkers, particularly when they share a common goal such as
in the Chinese society. Therefore, it is expected that
Hypothesis 1c: The dimension of intellectual stimulation is positively related to
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employee knowledge sharing in China.
The fourth dimension of transformational leadership, individualized consideration,
emphasizes a leader’s mentor role in developing employees’ potential (Bass, 1999; Bass et al.,
2003; Birasnav et al., 2012). This dimension focuses on listening to and satisfying
employees’ individualized needs such as achievement, personal growth, and learning
opportunities. Through individual consideration, transformational leaders promote high
interpersonal relationships among employees to avoid any conflict and create a friendly and
comfortable work atmosphere (Nemanich and Keller, 2007). According to the social exchange
theory, people tend to give back similar treatment they receive from others (Coyle-Shapiro and
Conway, 2005). When the followers receive individualized considerations from their leader, they
will try to return such benevolence by exerting more efforts, which is even more so in the
Chinese society where leaders are often considered as a father-figure who takes care of all
employees and all employees are expected to reciprocate with all efforts devoted to the common
goal. Therefore, it is expected that the followers of transformational leaders possessing the
characteristic of individualized consideration are more willing to share their knowledge with
others (Shih et al., 2012; Whitener, Brodt, Korsgaard, and Werner, 1998), and it is hypothesized
that:
Hypothesis 1d: The dimension of individualized consideration is positively related
to employee knowledge sharing in China.
The impact of psychological safety and team efficacy on knowledge sharing
The team learning theory contends that team psychological safety and team efficacy are the two
key factors that facilitate team learning behaviors such as knowledge sharing and knowledge
management activities (Edmondson, 1999). According to this theory, employees are more likely
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to share knowledge with their colleagues if they believe that the working environment is secure
(not being rejected or embarrassed by others) and their standings are not threatened when
knowledge is shared (colleagues are not competitive and they are willing to help each other)
(Edmondson, 1999); or if they believe that their colleagues are capable of using their shared
knowledge to perform the collective task successfully (Kessel et al., 2012). As more
organizations begin to employ knowledge sharing to facilitate organizational learning as basic
building blocks of their business operations and strategic executions (Jung and Sosik, 2002), it is
important to explore the impact of psychological safety and team efficacy on employee
knowledge sharing. In this study, psychological safety and team efficacy are complementary
individual perceptions of work team, one pertaining to interpersonal threat and the other focusing
on team’s potential to perform (Edmondson, 1999).
Psychological safety describes a perception that ‘people are comfortable being themselves’
(Edmondson, 1999, p. 354) and ‘feel able to show and employ one’s self without fear of negative
consequences to self-image, status or career’ (Kahn, 1990, p. 708). Organizational research has
identified psychological safety as an important factor in understanding how people collaborate to
achieve a shared outcome (Edmondson, 1999; Edmondson and Lei, 2014), making it a critical
concept for explaining employee collaborative behaviors such as knowledge sharing. Given that
the main reason why employees are unwilling to share knowledge is their feelings of insecurity,
past studies have examined this factor and consistently shown that psychological safety has a
positive influence on employee knowledge sharing (Kessel et al., 2012; Siemsen et al., 2009;
Zhang, Fang, Wei, and Chen, 2010), therefore, it is expected that psychological safety is also an
important factor in promoting knowledge sharing in China.
Hypothesis 2: Psychological safety is positively related to employee knowledge
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sharing in China.
Team efficacy, also called collective efficacy, refers to team members’ confidence that they
can collectively and successful perform or achieve a particular task or goal (Bandura, 1997;
Zaccaro, Blair, Peterson, and Zazanis, 1995). Bandura (1986, p. 449), in his introduction of the
term, noted that perceived collective efficacy will influence what people choose to do as a
group, how much effort they put into it, and their staying power when group efforts fail to
produce results”. Moreover, it has been found that groups with a high level of team efficacy have
a strong belief in the group's ability to performance its major tasks, and to overcome barriers to
performance (Guzzo, Yost, Campbell, and Shea, 1993). Guzzo and Shea (1992) have shown that
team efficacy is the key mediating variable linking the structural characteristics of groups and
their effectiveness. Thus, it is expected that employees with a high level of team efficacy are
more likely to share knowledge with others because they believe that their team is competent to
use their shared knowledge to complete the collective task successfully (Edmondson, 1999). In
this study, it is hypothesized that:
Hypothesis 3: Team efficacy is positively related to employee knowledge sharing in
China.
The mediating role of psychological safety and team efficacy
While it is important to know that transformational leaders can motivate employees to share
knowledge among organizational members in order to achieve organizational success, it is even
more important to understand the mechanism through which transformational leaders facilitate
knowledge sharing in order to create more effective intervention policies and training programs.
The social information process (SIP) theory suggests that social cues provided by the significant
others (e.g., team leader or heavyweight teammates) will influence one’s perception of the
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working environment and subsequent behaviors (Zhou and Pan, 2015). Given transformational
leaders’ pivotal role in shaping the working environment, transformational leadership is expected
to influence employee behaviors including knowledge sharing behaviors via its impact on
employees’ perceptions of the working environment, such as psychological safety and team
efficacy., In the following sections, we will explore how the four dimensions of transformational
leadership can affect employees’ perceptions of psychological safety and team efficacy
respectively, which further affect employee knowledge sharing.
The impact of idealized influence on psychological safety
As discussed above, idealized influence emphasizes that transformational leaders have the power
and influence to make their followers accept them as their role models (Mittal and Dhar, 2015).
Generally speaking, leaders with idealized influence tend to have high moral standards and
adhere to an ethical code of conduct, such as treating followers equally, encouraging followers to
collaborate and sacrificing their own self-interests for collective interests. They send a signal to
followers that the working environment is cooperative rather than competitive (Zhou and Pan,
2015). Therefore, mutual support and trust among employees are fostered within the team, and
employees feel their interests will never be harmed by other team members, leading a high level
of psychological safety. Schaubroeck, Lam and Peng (2011) showed that leaders who are
capable of instilling trust among followers help prompt conditions in which members feel
comfortable to express their opinions and share their knowledge. In other words, idealized
influence can improve employeesfeeling of safety to promote knowledge sharing and opinion
expression. Consequently, it is expected that
Hypothesis 4: Psychological safety meditates the relationship between idealized
influence and employee knowledge sharing in China.
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The impact of inspirational motivation on team efficacy
Inspirational motivation suggests that transformational leaders can arouse strong motivation in
their followers. Leaders with inspirational motivation are good at linking their followers’ work
roles to a compelling vision of the organization, motivating the followers to view their work as
more meaningful and significant and thus increasing their intrinsic motivating potential to exceed
the expectation (Bono and Judge, 2003; Zhu, Avolio, and Walumbwa, 2009). Avolio, Kahai,
Dumdum, and Sivasubramaniam (2001) argued that inspirational leaders can influence team
members’ perceptions of ability, benevolence, integrity, and information exchange by
highlighting the importance of cooperation in performing collective tasks. Inspirational
motivation can also lead the followers to accept the notion that higher performance, cooperation,
and collective good are important in their group (Li et al., 2014). By emphasizing group mission,
stressing shared values, connecting individual interests with the group ones, transformational
leaders provide the followers with more opportunities to interact with each other and to
appreciate team achievements and other team members’ contributions, resulting in a high level of
perceived team efficacy, which leaders to more knowledge sharing (Kark and Shamir, 2002;
Walumbwa, Wang, Lawler, and Shi, 2004). Therefore, it is proposed that.
Hypothesis 5: Team efficacy meditates the relationship between inspirational
motivation and employee knowledge sharing in China.
The impact of intellectual stimulation on psychological safety and team efficacy
Intellectual stimulation stresses that transformational leaders motivate their followers to take
risks, to challenge the statue quo, and to view problems from multiple perspectives (Shih et al.,
2012; Shin and Eom, 2014). Transformational leaders demonstrating intellectual stimulation
encourage their followers to question assumptions and to think and work in an innovative way
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(Shin and Eom, 2014; Zhang, Tsui and Wang, 2011). Intellectual simulation sends a clear
message to the followers that the working environment is safe to be different, and it is
legitimate and even encouraged to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas openly without
fear of negative interpersonal consequence such as being rejected, despised, embarrassed, or
losing competitiveness. Therefore, employees’ perceptions of psychological safety are
prompted under the leadership of such leaders. In addition, when employees view things from
different perspectives, they tend to value the opinions of their colleagues with less biases.
Meanwhile, a safe working environment provides employees with more opportunities to
communicate and interact with each, thus enhancing the possibilities that employees regard
their colleagues as capable and thus are more likely to share the knowledge. Hence, it is
expected that both psychological safety and team efficacy will mediate the relationship between
intellectually stimulation and employee knowledge sharing.
Hypothesis 6: Psychological safety and team efficacy meditate the relationship
between intellectual stimulation and employee knowledge sharing in China
The impact of individualized consideration on psychological safety and team efficacy
Individualized consideration suggests that transformational leaders attend to followers’ needs
and treat them uniquely (Shih et al., 2012; Zhou and Pan, 2015). Leaders demonstrating
individualized consideration hold such an opinion that employees must be cared for one-on-one
rather than via formal policies since each of them has unique strengths, interests, and needs
(Bass and Avolio, 1990; Detert and Burris, 2007). Individualized consideration embodies
leaderspersonal support and respect to their followers which are more likely to prompt the
followers’ trust in and identification with the leaders. These affections or feelings make the
followers aware that there is little personal risk in honest communication (Bass and Riggio,
19
2006; Edmondson, 2003), which can enhance followers’ perceptions of psychological safety. At
the same time, the followers will emulate individualized consideration demonstrated by
transformational leaders and learn to respect individual differences of each other which will
contribute to a working environment characterized by low levels of risk in taking initiatives
(Zhou and Pan, 2015). Besides, through individualized consideration, transformational leaders
can help their followers recognize their capabilities, and then elevate their performance to a
higher level (Shamir, House, and Arthur, 1993; Walumbwa et al., 2004), which strengthens
followers’ perceptions of team efficacy. Furthermore, by serving as mentors, transformational
leaders also help followers understand the perspectives and behaviors of others, which, in turn,
enable followers to interact with each other more smoothly and care more about others’
contribution (Ayoko and Chua, 2014; Zhang, Cao, and Tjosvold, 2011), leading to more
knowledge sharing. It is thus expected that
Hypothesis 7: Psychological safety and team efficacy meditate the relationship
between individualized consideration and employee knowledge sharing in China.
The overall research model of this study is displayed in Figure 1 wherein each of the
transformational leadership dimensions positively affects employee knowledge sharing, and
these relationships are further mediated by psychological safety and team efficacy.
----------------------------
Insert Figure 1 about here
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METHODS
Sample and procedures
Using a web-based survey, we collected data from employees who conducted knowledge-based
work in mainland China. The link to the survey was sent to friends and colleagues in different
universities and then forwarded to their connected companies with knowledge employees. The
20
questionnaire was anonymous to ensure respondents to answer the question as honestly as
possible and we received 501 completed surveys after six months. After removing the
questionnaires with incomplete information or invalid data, there were 421 valid questionnaires
used in this study. Among all the respondents included in this study, 48% of the respondents
were females, and the majority of the respondents was between 25 and 35 years old. 4% of the
respondents held a high school diploma or equivalent, 53.7% held a bachelor’s degree, and
31.4% held a post-graduate degree, with the remainder of the participants with a PhD degree.
32% the respondents has been working for over fifteen years, with the average work
experiences at 3.5 years (please also refer to Table 1).
Measures
All scales used in this study were in Chinese Mandarin. The scales developed in previous
studies were adapted and adopted in this study after they were translated into Chinese using the
translation and back-translation procedure, whereby they were first translated into Chinese from
English and then back into English to ensure equivalency of meaning, following the commonly
prescribed procedures (Brislin, 1980). Necessary revision was also made to ensure the scales
were consistent with the Chinese context. All participants answered the questions on a series of
5-point Likert-type scales, ranging from 1 = completely disagree to 5 = completely agree.
Transformational leadership The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) Form
5X-Short (Bass, Avolio, Jung, and Berson, 2003) were used in this study to measure
transformational leadership. The scale had twenty items in total to estimate four dimensions of
transformational leadership: idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual
stimulation, and individualized consideration. Sample items include “My team leader goes
beyond self-interest for the good of the group”, “My team leader talks optimistically about the
21
future”, “My team leader spends time teaching and coaching me”, and “My team leader seeks
differing perspectives when solving problems”, respectively. The resulting Cronbach alpha for
the four dimensions was 0.92, 0.88, 0.90, and 0.88, respectively, all above the minimum
acceptable level.
Psychological safety Using the items from Edmondson’s (1999) psychological safety scale,
and with a factor analysis, a seven-item scale was developed to assess psychological safety in
this study. Examples of seven items that make up the measure are: “It is safe to take a risk on
my team” and “No one on my team would deliberately act in a way that undermines my efforts”.
The Cronbach alpha for this measure was 0.82.
Team efficacy We used the three-item scale of team efficacy from Edmondson (1999) and
made minor revision to make it more suitable for individual responses. Example items of the
three-item measure include “My team can achieve its task without requiring us to put in
unreasonable time or effort”, and “With focus and effort, my team can do anything we set out to
accomplish”. The Cronbach alpha for this measure was 0.73.
Employee knowledge sharing We adopted three items from the knowledge sharing measure
developed by Cheng and Li (2001), which has also proved to have high reliability in Chinese
samples. The items were to assess three aspects of knowledge sharing: sharing individual
knowledge, sharing learning opportunities, and encouraging others to learn. Sample items
include “Offering suggestions when discussing matters with colleagues”, “Being willing to talk
about knowledge and experience with colleagues”. The Cronbach alpha for this measure was
0.83.
Control Variables. Employee age, education level, gender, and working experience are
found to have potential influences on knowledge sharing, as prior research suggested (Felin and
22
Hesterly, 2007; Zhang et al., 2010). In order to explore the true impact of transformational
leadership on knowledge sharing, the impact of these variables was controlled for in this study.
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
Basic descriptive statistical testing and correlation analysis were conducted with SPSS 20.0.,
and then we used AMOS 20.0 as suggested by Podsakoff et al. (2003) to assess the convergent
and discriminant validity of the constructs examined in this study. To test the proposed
hypotheses and the mediating roles of psychological safety and team efficacy, we used MPlus
7.0 for the multiple regression analyses because it can help investigate the relationships
between a set of independent and dependent variables in one single regression analysis (Muthén
and Muthén, 2012). We also followed the methods recommended by MacKinnon, Lockwood,
Hoffman, West, and Sheets (2002), to use Mplus 7.0 to test the mediation hypothesis by
examining the significance of indirect effects. Finally, in order to avoid the problem that the
coefficient product test violates the distribution assumption, we used the bootstrapping method
to improve the statistical validity of the test (Grant and Berry, 2011), that is, to repeatedly
extract 5000 a*b values from the original data and then estimate the unbiased interval of these
values.
Table 1 showed the means, standard deviations, and correlations of the study variables. The
results indicate that there was a close correlation between the variables.
--------------------------------
Insert Table 1 about here
--------------------------------
Convergent and Discriminant Validity
Confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) were performed to assess the convergent and discriminant
validity of the constructs examined in this study. Using AMOS 20.0, we tested whether the
23
seven-factor model is a good fit with our data and the results show that the seven-factor model
has the best fit which supports the hypothesized research model (χ2/df=2.03, CFI=0.95,
NFI=0.90, IFI=0.95, GFI=0.88, RMSEA=0.049 as in Table 2) when compared with all other
alternative models, as shown in Table 2.
--------------------------------
Insert Table 2 about here
--------------------------------
We further tested the convergent validity of all the variables by assessing their factor
loadings which should be significant and exceed 0.5 (Straub, 1989), composite reliabilities (CR)
which should exceed 0.6 (Bagozzi and Yi, 1988), and the average variance extracted (AVE)
that should be more than 0.5 for all variables (Fornell and Larcker, 1981). The results showed
that all the factor loadings and composite reliabilities fell in the acceptable ranges and were
significant at the 0.01 level. Factor loadings ranged from 0.56 to 0.86 and all composite
reliabilities were above 0.7. Moreover, the AVE values were all above 0.5, again above the
acceptable level.
Therefore, the preparatory tests indicate that the scales of transformational leadership,
psychological safety, team efficacy and knowledge sharing possessed adequate convergent and
discriminant validity in our Chinese sample for use in hypothesis testing.
Hypotheses Testing
To test the hypotheses developed in this study, hierarchical regression analyses were conducted
with the effect of the control variables including age, gender, level of education, and working
experience controlled for. As shown in Table 3, with the four dimensions of transformational
leadership as independent variables and knowledge sharing as dependent variables, all four
dimensions of transformational leadership were positively related to employee knowledge
24
sharing (β = 0.35, p <0.01; β = 0.34, p <0.01; β = 0.37, p <0.01; β = 0.32, p <0.01, respectively;
Model 1 in Table 3), which supports H1a, H1b, H1c, and H1d. When using psychological
safety and team efficacy as independent variables respectively, the results again show that they
were also positively related to knowledge sharing in China (β = 0.47, p <0.001; β = 0.45, p
<0.001 in Model 2 and Model 3; β = 0.20, p <0.01; β = 0.23, p <0.01 in Model 6), which
supports H2 and H3.
The results also showed that intellectual stimulation and individualized consideration were
positively related to psychological safety (β = 0.19. p <0.01; β = 0.20, p <0.01, respectively;
Model 4). When team efficacy was the dependent variable, the results showed that inspirational
motivation and individualized consideration were positively related to team efficacy = 0.21,
p <0.01; β = 0.17, p <0.05, respectively, Model 5). Moreover, the results indicated that the
significant relationships between the four dimensions of transformational leadership and
knowledge sharing became non-significant when psychological safety and team efficacy were
entered the equation. Combining significances of indirect effects together, the indirect effect
values of psychological safety and team efficacy between individualized consideration and
knowledge sharing were 0.041 and 0.040, respectively, and 95% confidence intervals were
(0.006, 0.096) and (0.010, 0.094), respectively, excluding zero. These suggested that
psychological safety and team efficacy fully mediated the relationship between individualized
consideration and knowledge sharing, which supported H7.
-----------------------------
Insert Table 3 about here
-----------------------------
The indirect effect of team efficacy between inspirational motivation and knowledge
sharing was 0.049, and the 95% confidence interval was (0.015, 0.112), not including zero,
25
which again suggested that team efficacy fully mediated the relationship between inspirational
motivation and employee knowledge sharing, and inspirational motivation was positively
related to employee knowledge sharing. H5 were thus supported. The indirect effect of
psychological safety between intellectual stimulation and knowledge sharing was 0.402, and
95% confidence interval was (0.006, 0.101), excluding zero. However, the mediation results of
team efficacy are not significant, so it partially supported H6 in that psychological safety, not
team efficacy, played a mediating role between intellectual stimulation and employee
knowledge sharing. It is probably because intellectual stimulation sends a clear message to
employees that the working environment is safe to express themselves, which promote their
psychological safety. But the improvement of team efficacy is mainly based on the perception
of the actual team capability, rather than on the perceived capability from intellectual
stimulation. In addition, idealized influence was not significant related to psychological safety,
which means that H4 were not supported. One of possible reasons is that it is difficult for
idealized influence to have a positive impact on psychological safety alone, idealized influence
and inspirational motivation usually form a combined factor of charismatic-inspirational
leadership (Bass and Avolio, 1993). In other words, only when other factors of transformational
leadership work together with idealized influence, idealized influence can have a positive
impact when putting into action. The final research model based on the analyses was presented
in Figure 2.
---------------------------------------
Insert Table 4 & Figure 2 about here
-----------------------------------------
CONCLUSIONS AND DISCUSSIONS
26
Knowledge sharing is very important to a firm’s competitive advantage (Shih et al., 2012), but
employees do not share their knowledge automatically, and organizational leaders play a
critical role in making it happen in knowledge management (Srivastava et al., 2006). Previous
studies have supported a positive relationship between transformational leadership and
employee knowledge sharing, but the impact of each specific dimensions of transformational
leadership and the mechanism through which these dimensions affect knowledge sharing are
less clear, and knowledge sharing in the international context also receive relatively little
attention. This study attempts to bridge this research gap by exploring the mechanisms through
which each transformational leadership dimension influences knowledge sharing and by
developing a theoretical model to explain this process in the Chinese context, a highly
collectivistic society where knowledge sharing is consistent with the dominant values, to serve
for the organizational collective good rather than individual interests. Empirical data were
collected from knowledge employees of Chinese companies. The results supported the
proposed research model and thus provided a clearer picture on transformational leadership and
knowledge sharing as well as the mediating effect of psychological safety and team efficacy in
an important cultural context. Our study will have important theoretical and managerial
implications.
Theoretical implications
This study has several theoretical implications and can make important contributions to the
literature on transformational leadership and knowledge sharing. First, our study complements
the existing literature on leadership and knowledge sharing. Although past studies have found a
positive relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing (Chen and
Barnes, 2006; García-Morales, Lloréns-Montes, and Verdú-Jover, 2008; Le and Lei, 2019; Liu
27
and DeFrank, 2013; Shariq et al., 2019; Shih et al., 2012), almost none of them have considered
transformational leadership as a four-dimensional composite variable and further distinguished
the impact of each dimension in examining the impact of transformational leadership on
knowledge sharing. In this study, we systematically analyzed and developed the relationships
between each of the four dimensions of transformational leadership and knowledge sharing, and
the results support our hypotheses. The findings of this study can thus improve our
understanding about transformational leadership and knowledge sharing in a more nuance way.
Second, our study explores the mechanisms through which transformational leadership
influences knowledge sharing. Past studies have highlighted the need to consider intervening
conditions and possible process variables affecting the relationship between transformational
leadership and management practices, including self-interest (Liu and DeFrank, 2013), LMX
(Li et al., 2014), group climates (including affiliation climate, innovativeness climate and
fairness climate (Li et al., 2014) and trust climate (Shih et al., 2012), but few has considered the
mediating mechanisms between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing. Using the
team learning theory, we identified two important mediators, namely psychological safety and
team efficacy, through which transformational leadership impacts knowledge sharing. The
empirical evidence of this study supported the proposed model. Therefore, this study is an
important addition to current literature on the dynamics between transformational leadership
and knowledge sharing.
Finally, we tested this model in an important international context – China, a highly
collectivistic society (Hofstede, 2001), where knowledge sharing seems to be consistent with
the dominant values, i.e., sharing the knowledge for the collective good rather than keeping the
knowledge to yourself for individual interests. This way we extend the existing model of
28
transformational leadership and knowledge sharing to the international context, an important
step towards developing a more robust theory on knowledge management that can help resolve
challenges in the increasingly globalized world market and also a valuable addition to
knowledge management literature. This again will enrich existing literature of relationships
between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing.
Managerial implications
The findings of this study have important managerial implications as well. On the one hand, it
is necessary for organizations to carry out leadership development programs in order to
promote knowledge sharing. Organizations can benefit a lot by providing their managers with
transformational leadership training which can enhance followers’ perceptions of psychological
safety and team efficacy, which further promotes positive outcomes such as employee
knowledge sharing. As an “climate engineer”, transformational leaders play important roles in
creating safe working environment and shaping followers’ perceptions (Ayoko and Chua, 2014;
Carmeli et al., 2014; Jung and Sosik, 2002; Walumbwa et al., 2004; Zhou and Pan, 2015).
Therefore, organizations should pay more attention to the whole process of leadership training,
from training preparation, training implementation, to training evaluation and feedback in order
to provide organization leaders with sufficient skill to foster a psychologically safe and
collectively capable environment for better knowledge sharing. The skills of fostering a secure
and capable environment are even more important in China given that leaders are often
considered as a father-figure (Hofstede, 2001) whereby leaders are expected to take care of all
employee needs and employees are expected to devote all their efforts to the organization. Our
study thus suggests that proper leadership training programs are very important for effective
knowledge sharing in China.
29
On the other hand, this study shows that both psychological safety and team efficacy are
important mediating variables. Scholars have found that psychological safety is positively
related to knowledge sharing (Siemsen et al., 2009), voice behavior (Detert and Burris, 2007;
Liang et al., 2012), creative problem solving capacity (Carmeli et al., 2013), team learning
(Edmondson, 1999; Tucker, 2007), team effectiveness (Mu and Gnyawali, 2003),
organizational learning (Carmeli, 2007; Carmeli, Brueller, and Dutton, 2009; Carmeli and
Gittell, 2009), organizational performance (Baer and Frese, 2003), and team efficacy is
positively related to job satisfaction (Walumbwa et al., 2004), organizational commitment
(Walumbwa et al., 2004), and team performance (Gully et al., 2002; Lin et al, 2012; Srivastava
et al., 2006). Therefore, transformational leaders are required to monitor followers’ perceptions
of psychological safety and team efficacy from time to time and keep them at a high level to
facilitate knowledge sharing among organizational members.
To conclude, knowledge sharing has become more important for a firm’s success with the
advent of knowledge economy era (Alavi and Leidner 2001; Liu and DeFrank, 2013, Ma et al.,
2014). Since transformational leaders play an important role in promoting knowledge sharing,
we develop an integrated model to explore the mechanism through which transformational
leadership affects knowledge sharing and thus provides a new perspective to examine this
relationship. In this model, we propose that the four dimensions of transformational leadership
each has unique influence on knowledge sharing and we further identify two important
mediators, psychological safety and team efficacy, for the relationships between the dimensions
of transformational leadership and knowledge sharing. More research is called upon to
empirically validate the model proposed here and once supported, this integrated model is able
to generate more insights for research on knowledge management.
30
Limitations and future research
This study also has limitations and caution must be exercised. First, we only examined two
mediators and the effect of transformational leadership on employee knowledge sharing could
be affected by other factors, such as trust and human management practices (Collins and Smith
2006). Future research should examine more factors to investigate their impacts on the
relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing, and to improve the
rigor of the research by measuring and controlling for the effect of other possible intervention
mechanisms.
Second, our research is based on the individual level data. While the findings of this study
can help organizations better understand the dynamics of knowledge sharing at the individual
level and thus more effective knowledge management programs can be designed to motivate
employees to share knowledge, many organizations have adopted work groups or teams in their
operations and how to stimulate team-level knowledge sharing has become more important and
valuable for organization performance. Whether our model is applicable to the team level
knowledge sharing is not yet verified in the current study. Team-based data should be used in
future studies to test the applicability of our model at the team level.
Finally, this study is based on perceptual data from self-reported questionnaires rather than
actual leadership behaviors or knowledge sharing behaviors, which is a potential threat to the
generalizability of this study. The common method variance (CMV) may also affect this study’s
generalizability. To test the CMV, the Harman’s single-factor test (Podsakoff and Organ, 1986)
was conducted by including all variables in an exploratory factor analysis using principal
component analysis method with varimax rotation. The factor analysis clearly showed that no
single factor explains more than 50% of the total variance, demonstrating the common method
31
bias is not a serious concern (Podsakoff et al, 2003). In addition, this study is a cross-sectional
design, and conclusions about the causality in our model cannot be drawn. Future research
could address this issue by obtaining data from experimental and longitudinal designs in
different industries and countries to improve our understanding on the relationship between
leadership and knowledge sharing.
32
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43
Table 1
Descriptive statistics and correlations
Variables Mean SD 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1. Age 1.54 0.50
2. Education level 2.58 0.92 -0.00
3. Gender 1.48 0.74 -0.06 0.05
4. Working Experience 3.45 1.49 -0.05 0.85**
*
-0.06
5. Idealized influence 3.71 0.70 -0.04 -0.07 -0.08 -0.08
6. Individualized consideration 3.44 0.83 0.03 -0.08 -0.04 -0.12* 0.80***
7. Inspirational motivation 3.58 0.76 -0.05 -0.05 -0.06 -0.08 0.78*** 0.79***
8. Intellectual stimulation 3.65 0.73 -0.05 -0.08 -0.06 -0.11* 0.75*** 0.78*** 0.75***
9. Psychological safety 3.54 0.56 -0.01 -0.03 -0.02 -0.05 0.49*** 0.55*** 0.54*** 0.53***
10. Team efficacy 3.56 0.68 -0.02 -0.02 -0.06 -0.03 0.49*** 0.51*** 0.51*** 0.48***
0.66***
11. Employee knowledge sharing 4.04 0.57 -0.07 0.06 0.03 0.06 0.34*** 0.32** 0.33** 0.35** 0.44*** 0.46***
Note: N=421, *P < 0.05; **P< 0.01; ***P<0.001 (two-tailed); Employee age: 1= below 25 years old, 2=between 25 and 35 years old, 3=between 36 and 45 years old,
4=between 46 and 55 years old, 5=56 years old or above; Education level: 1= high school diploma or below, 2= bachelor degree, 3=master degree, 4=doctoral degree;
Gender: 1=male, 2=female; working experience: 1= below 3 years, 2=between 3 and 5 years, 3=between 5 and 10 years, 4=between 10 and 15 years, 5=15 years and
above.
44
Table 2
Confirmatory factor analysis results
Alternative Models χ2 χ2/df CFI NFI IFI TLI GFI RMSEA
One-factor model 2528.03 5.11 0.77 0.73 0.77 0.76 0.65 0.099
Three-factor model A
(II+IC+IM+IS, PS+TE, KS) 1443.02 2.93 0.89 0.85 0.89 0.89 0.81 0.068
Three-factor model B
(II+IC+IM+IS+ KS, PS, TE) 1883.86 3.83 0.84 0.80 0.84 0.83 0.77 0.082
Three-factor model C
(II+IC+IM+IS+PS, TE, KS) 1917.55 3.90 0.84 0.80 0.84 0.82 0.73 0.083
Three-factor model D
(II+IC+IM+IS+TE, PS, KS) 1693.50 3.44 0.87 0.82 0.87 0.85 0.78 0.076
Four-factor model
(II+IC+IM+IS, PS, TE, KS) 1389.37 2.84 0.90 0.85 0.90 0.89 0.82 0.066
Five-factor model
(II, IC, IM, IS, PS+TE+KS) 1331.92 2.75 0.91 0.85 0.91 0.90 0.83 0.064
Six-factor model A
(II, IC, IM, IS, PS+TE, KS) 1016.85 2.12 0.94 0.89 0.94 0.93 0.87 0.052
Six-factor model B
(II, IC, IM, IS, PS, TE+KS) 1222.27 2.55 0.92 0.87 0.92 0.91 0.84 0.061
Six-factor model C
(II, IC, IM, IS, PS+ KS, TE) 1289.07 2.69 0.91 0.86 0.91 0.90 0.84 0.063
Seven-factor model 959.81 2.03 0.95 0.90 0.95 0.94 0.88 0.049
Note: N = 421, II = idealized influence, IC = individualized consideration, IM = inspirational motivation, IS = intellectual stimulation, PS = psychological safety, KS =
knowledge sharing, TE = team efficacy.
45
Table 3
Results of hierarchical regression analyses
Variables Knowledge sharing Psychological
safety
Team
efficacy Knowledge
sharing
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6
Gender -0.07 -0.06 -0.06 0.00 -0.01 -0.05
Employee age 0.02 -0.02 -0.00 0.03 0.00 -0.01
Education level 0.03 0.04 0.06 0.01 -0.03 0.05
Working exprience 0.04 0.09 0.08 -0.01 0.01 0.04
Idealized influence 0.35** 0.06 0.09
Individualized consideration
0.32** 0.20** 0.17* -0.09
Inspirational motivation 0.34** 0.21** -0.00
Intellectual stimulation 0.37** 0.19** 0.14 0.11
Psychological safety 0.45*** 0.20**
Team efficacy 0.47*** 0.23**
Note: N=421, *P < 0.05; **P< 0.01; ***P<0.001 (two-tailed)
46
Table 4
Indirect effect test results for different paths
Path βa βb Indirect effect
1a: II->PS->KS - - - -
2a: IC->PS ->KS 0.200 0.203 0.041 (0.006, 0.096)
2b: IC->TE->KS 0.172 0.231 0.040 (0.010, 0.094)
3b: IM->TE->KS 0.213 0.231 0.049 (0.015, 0.112)
4a: IS->PS->KS 0.198 0.203 0.040 (0.006, 0.101)
4b: IS->TE->KS - - - -
Note: N =421, II = idealized influence, IC = individualized consideration, IM = inspirational motivation, IS = intellectual
stimulation, PS = psychological safety, TE = team efficacy, KS = employee knowledge sharing, βa= the result of the regression of
the mediator variable with the antecedent variable, βb= the result of the regression of the result variable to the mediator variable.
47
Figure 1
A Research Model on Transformational Leadership and Employee Knowledge Sharing
Idealized
influence
Individualized
Consideration
Intellectual
Stimulation
Inspirational
Motivation
Team
Efficacy
Psychological
Safety
Employee
Knowledge Sharing
48
Figure 2
A Revised Model on Transformational Leadership and Employee Knowledge Sharing
0.20**
0.23**
0.06
Idealized
influence
Individualized
Consideration
Intellectual
Stimulation
Inspirational
Motivation
Team
Efficacy
Psychological
Safety
Employee
Knowledge Sharing
0.14
0.17*
0.21**
0.20**
0.19**
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... To some extent, employees become inflexible and rigid partly because they have become habituated through psychological and behavioral lock-in (Heine & Rindfleisch, 2013). Knowledge-donating behaviors of intra-organizational members can be used to provide a new understanding of what the leaders envision (De Clercq & Pereira, 2020), and to stimulate new internal learning (Akroush & Awwad, 2018), so that the psychological safety for change and employee creativity counteracts the inertial forces, as noted in Yin et al. (2020) the inertia forces. In other words, the moderating role of knowledge-donating behaviors and attitudes can contribute to shifting organizational inertia into an incentivized zone that motivates creativity. ...
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Purpose The influence of leadership in organizational knowledge sharing process has been gradually highlighted. This empirical study aims at exploring the complex relationship between leadership and organizational knowledge sharing by investigating the moderating role of exchange ideology on the relation between transformational leadership in attributed charisma and knowledge sharing, and the influence of attributed charisma and knowledge sharing on task performance. Design/methodology/approach Based on the review of relevant literature and survey, a structural equation model (SEM) considering 4 factors in the model together is now constructed and provides 4 hypotheses which can be verified. Self-completed questionnaires were collected from 163 students in the context of a graduate class in China. Findings The findings illustrate the relationship between leadership theory and knowledge sharing from a perspective of social exchange theory. In particular, results show that both transformational leadership and knowledge sharing have positive impacts to task performance and for individuals with low exchange ideology the positive influence from attributed charisma to knowledge sharing is stronger. Originality/value This research introduces exchange ideology as a moderator, and explains the complex relationship between transformational leadership and knowledge sharing with sufficient proof. Transformational leadership in attributed charisma is more effective to those individuals with low exchange ideology in facilitating their knowledge effort. This paper can be theoretically and practically helpful to researchers and enterprise leaders in organizational knowledge management.