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Using cross-cultural laboratory and field studies with samples of leaders, employees, and students from the United States and the People's Republic of China, we examined how team-level stimuli, including empowering leadership and relationship conflict, combine to influence individual members' motivational states of psychological empowerment and affective commitment. As predicted, we found that these motivational states are individually and jointly influenced by teams' level of empowering leadership and relationship conflict and that these motivational states mediate the relationships between team stimuli and team members' innovative and teamwork behaviors and turnover intentions. In addition, results held despite controlling for team members' nationality and collectivism. We discuss contributions of our study to the team motivation, conflict, and stress literatures.
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Motivating and Demotivating Forces in Teams: Cross-Level Influences
of Empowering Leadership and Relationship Conflict
Gilad Chen, Payal Nangia Sharma,
Suzanne K. Edinger, and Debra L. Shapiro
University of Maryland
Jiing-Lih Farh
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
Using cross-cultural laboratory and field studies with samples of leaders, employees, and students from
the United States and the People’s Republic of China, we examined how team-level stimuli, including
empowering leadership and relationship conflict, combine to influence individual members’ motivational
states of psychological empowerment and affective commitment. As predicted, we found that these
motivational states are individually and jointly influenced by teams’ level of empowering leadership and
relationship conflict and that these motivational states mediate the relationships between team stimuli and
team members’ innovative and teamwork behaviors and turnover intentions. In addition, results held
despite controlling for team members’ nationality and collectivism. We discuss contributions of our study
to the team motivation, conflict, and stress literatures.
Keywords: work teams, motivation, conflict, multilevel
To accomplish key objectives, organizations continue to rely on
work teams, defined as “a distinguishable set of two or more
people who interact, dynamically, interdependently, and adap-
tively toward a common and valued goal/objective/mission” (Sa-
las, Dickinson, Converse, & Tannenbaum, 1992, p. 4). The liter-
ature on teams has recognized that team effectiveness is a function
of multilevel processes (Kozlowski & Bell, 2003). In particular,
team-level stimuli, such as team leadership and other team pro-
cesses, exert nontrivial influences on individual members’ behav-
ior (Hackman, 1992). In turn, individual members can contribute
to team effectiveness in various ways (see Mathieu, Maynard,
Rapp, & Gilson, 2008). Among these is generating and implement-
ing novel ideas and procedures, termed innovative behavior (e.g.,
Anderson, De Dreu, & Nijstad, 2004), and helping team members
coordinate their efforts to ensure team success, termed teamwork
behavior (e.g., Welbourne, Johnson, & Erez, 1998). Furthermore,
members’ willingness to remain with their team and organization
(i.e., low turnover intentions) helps to maintain teams’ viability or
ability to function well over time (Hackman, 1987).
Despite progress in the teams and motivation literatures (see
Chen & Gogus, 2008; Kanfer, Chen, & Pritchard, 2008; Kozlow-
ski & Bell, 2003; Mathieu et al., 2008), important gaps remain in
the understanding of members’ motivation to contribute to their
team’s effectiveness. Our article’s purpose is to address three
specific gaps in the understanding of how and when teams exert
contextual influences on members’ motivation to contribute to
their teams.
First, despite classic research suggesting that team dynamics
(e.g., leader behaviors, team norms) can impact team members’
behavior (Hackman, 1992; Lewin, 1947), only limited research has
directly examined the relationships between team and leadership
stimuli and team members’ motivational reactions and, particu-
larly, team members’ motivational states (i.e., how members con-
ceive of their work environment and their capacity to function
effectively in their work environment; see Chen & Gogus, 2008;
Zaccaro, Ely, & Nelson, 2008). This is a critical limitation since
motivational states likely serve as key mediators between team-
level stimuli and individual team members’ behaviors (Chen &
Kanfer, 2006). As such, there remains a gap in the understanding
of why and how team-level stimuli affect team member behaviors.
To address this first gap, we delineated and empirically tested a
cross-level model (see Figure 1) that specifies how and when team
members’ motivational states relate to team-level stimuli of em-
powering leadership (i.e., extent to which leaders enhance auton-
omy, control, self-management, and confidence in their teams;
Chen, Lam, & Zhong, 2007; Kirkman & Rosen, 1999; Konczak,
Stelly, & Trusty, 2000) and relationship conflict (i.e., tension,
annoyance, and animosity among team members; Jehn, 1995,
1997; Jehn & Mannix, 2001). We focused on two individual-level
motivational states likely to be affected by empowering leadership
and relationship conflict, namely, psychological empowerment
(i.e., extent to which members feel they have the autonomy and
competence to perform meaningful and impactful tasks; Spreitzer,
1995) and affective commitment (i.e., extent to which employees
This article was published Online First December 20, 2010.
Gilad Chen, Payal Nangia Sharma, Suzanne K. Edinger, and Debra L.
Shapiro, Management & Organization Department, Robert H. Smith
School of Business, University of Maryland; Jiing-Lih Farh, Department of
Management, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong
Kong, China.
The work described in this article was supported by a grant from the
Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Re-
gion, China (Project 641507), awarded to Jiing-Lih Farh and Gilad Chen.
We would like to thank Lida Zhang and Melody Chao for their assistance
in conducting this research.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Gilad
Chen, Management & Organization Department, Robert H. Smith School
of Business, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742-1815.
E-mail: giladchen@rhsmith.umd.edu
Journal of Applied Psychology © 2010 American Psychological Association
2011, Vol. 96, No. 3, 541–557 0021-9010/10/$12.00 DOI: 10.1037/a0021886
541
feel a sense of emotional attachment to and identify with their team
and/or organization
1
; Meyer & Allen, 1991). By considering these
motivational states, we hoped to better understand how and why
team-level stimuli motivate members to contribute meaningfully to
their teams, as reflected by higher levels of members’ innovative
and teamwork behaviors and lower levels of turnover intentions.
Second, prior research has tended to focus on team dynamics
that either motivate (i.e., exert positive influences on members’
motivational states) or demotivate (i.e., exert negative influences
on members’ motivational states) team members. On the one hand,
studies that have examined positive (motivating) team-level influ-
ences have theorized and found that leader actions that encourage
follower self-development, such as empowering leadership and the
related construct of transformational leadership (e.g., Bono &
Judge, 2003) positively influence team members’ individual mo-
tivation (cf. Chen, Kirkman, Kanfer, Allen, & Rosen, 2007; Seib-
ert, Silver, & Randolph, 2004). On the other hand, studies that
have examined negative (demotivating) team-level influences have
proposed and found that relationship conflict and other hindering
stressors in the team negatively influence members’ motivation, in
that they lead members to withdraw effort and disengage from
their work and their teams (Jehn, 1995, 1997; Jehn & Mannix,
2001; LePine, Podsakoff, & LePine, 2005; Podsakoff, LePine, &
LePine, 2007).
Missing from the literature is a more complete account of how
motivating team-level stimuli that exert positive influences on
team members’ motivational states operate simultaneously with
other team-level stimuli that demotivate or exert negative influ-
ences on team members’ motivational states (Chen & Gogus,
2008; Podsakoff et al., 2007). Given that team members are
exposed simultaneously to distinct motivating and demotivating
stimuli in the work setting (Hackman, 1992; Podsakoff et al.,
2007), it is important to examine whether these stimuli types exert
unique (possibly opposite) influences on team members’ motiva-
tion and possibly also interact to affect team members’ motivation.
Accordingly, our second contribution involves an integration and
extension of prior models of team motivation and work stressors to
provide a more complete account of how motivating and demoti-
vating team dynamics combine to exert unique and interaction
effects (which we dub joint influences) on team members’ moti-
vation and behavior.
Finally, the vast majority of the research cited above employed
samples of U.S. American participants, which prevents one from
knowing whether the cross-level effects that were observed gen-
eralize to cultures outside of the United States. Accordingly, a
third purpose of our research was to examine these dynamics in
samples consisting of leaders, employees, and students in two
countries that have been found to significantly differ from each
other in their citizens’ typical cultural values—namely, in the
People’s Republic of China (PRC) as well as the United States (cf.
Hofstede, 1980; Kirkman, Lowe, & Gibson, 2006; Kirkman &
Shapiro, 2001). The latter comparison is practically important in
light of the increasing frequency with which employees operate in
culturally diverse environments; moreover, this culture compari-
son enabled us to answer calls for more research that seeks to
generalize theories of organizational behavior across cultures (Gel-
fand, Erez, & Aycan, 2007; Kirkman et al., 2006; Tsui, Nifadkar,
& Ou, 2007).
Theory and Hypotheses
In the sections that follow, we delineate a theoretical model (see
Figure 1) that takes into account the joint influences of motivating
(i.e., empowering leadership) and demotivating (i.e., relationship
1
In this research, we did not differentiate between affective commitment
to one’s team and one’s organization because it has been argued that the
team provides the immediate context within which organizational influ-
ences on employees occur (Chen & Kanfer, 2006; Hackman, 1992) and
because there is empirical evidence that team and organizational commit-
ment are highly related and function similarly in teams (Kirkman, &
Rosen, 1999). Thus, we expected that affective commitment to one’s team
would operate similarly to affective commitment to one’s organization in
the context of our model.
H5c (-)
H5b (+)
H5a (+)
H4c (-)
H4b (+)
H4a (+)
H3b (-)
H3a (-)
H2a (-)
H1b (+)
H1a (+)
H2b (-)
Innovative
Behavior
Psychological
Empowerment
Turnover
Intentions
Teamwork
Behavior
Affective
Commitment
Empowering
Leadership
Relationship
Conflict
Figure 1. Hypothesized theoretical model. H hypothesis.
542 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
conflict) team stimuli on individual-level outcomes (i.e., members’
innovative behavior, teamwork behavior, and turnover intentions).
We focus on these particular individual-level outcomes since prior
research has theorized and found that team members’ innovative
and teamwork behaviors are positively linked, while turnover
intentions are negatively linked, to team effectiveness (Chen,
2005; Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007; Harrison, Mohammed,
McGrath, Florey, & Vanderstoep, 2003; Marrone, Tesluk, & Car-
son, 2007). We examine empowering leadership and relationship
conflict as the positive and negative team-level predictor variables,
respectively, because prior work has identified these two dynamics
to be particularly powerful motivating and demotivating forces in
teams, respectively (e.g., Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007; Jehn, 1995,
1997).
Building on and integrating prior models of team motivation
(Chen & Kanfer, 2006), conflict (Jehn, 1995, 1997; Jehn & Man-
nix, 2001), and stressors (LePine et al., 2005; Podsakoff et al.,
2007), we also examine whether individual members’ motivational
states, including psychological empowerment and affective com-
mitment, mediate the cross-level influences of empowering lead-
ership and relationship conflict on individual outcomes. According
to Spreitzer (1995), employees feel more psychologically empow-
ered when they believe that they (a) can influence outcomes in
their organization, hence have impact; (b) are capable of accom-
plishing task goals, or have a sense of competence; (c) have choice
in how they go about doing their work, or have autonomy; and (d)
feel intrinsic enjoyment in the work they do, hence have a sense of
meaningfulness. Affective commitment captures the extent to
which employees feel a sense of emotional attachment to, and
identify with, their work environment (Meyer & Allen, 1991). As
we explain further below, team members with higher levels of
psychological empowerment and affective commitment are likely
to be more motivated to engage in behaviors that contribute
positively to their team and organization.
The Motivating Effects of Empowering Leadership
Prior research has conceptualized and assessed empowering
leadership as a team-level stimulus—that is, as leader behaviors
directed to the team as a whole (Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007;
Kirkman & Rosen, 1999). Highly empowering leaders share power
with their employees by delegating authority to employees, hold
employees accountable, involve employees in decision making,
encourage self-management of work, and convey confidence in
employees’ capabilities to handle challenging work (Kirkman &
Rosen, 1999; Konczak et al., 2000). In contrast to highly empow-
ering leaders, leaders characterized as low in empowering leader-
ship engage in more micromanaging or monitoring behaviors
(Spreitzer, De Janasz, & Quinn, 1999) that discourage team self-
management, reduce opportunities for autonomous behavior in the
team, and convey to their team members little faith in their
capabilities to handle challenging work.
Chen and Kanfer (2006) theorized that team-level stimuli, such
as empowering leadership, enhance team members’ willingness to
contribute to their teams indirectly, through members’ motiva-
tional states such as psychological empowerment and affective
commitment. That is, leaders who exhibit more empowering be-
haviors, as compared to leaders who exhibit less empowering
behaviors, are more likely to facilitate and motivate members to
apply their capabilities toward work-related contributions in their
team. More highly empowering leaders convey to their teams they
are confident in their teams’ capabilities to handle challenging
work by encouraging members to be more involved in key deci-
sion making, to collaboratively and autonomously self-manage
their work, and to be accountable for outcomes in their team
(Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007; Kirkman & Rosen, 1999; Manz &
Sims, 1987; Seibert et al., 2004). Such empowering leadership
behaviors are likely to promote team members’ psychological
empowerment by enhancing members’ personal beliefs that their
work is meaningful and relevant and that they have the autonomy,
opportunity, and capability to influence key outcomes in their team
and organization. Empowering leadership behaviors also posi-
tively influence members’ affective commitment because the be-
haviors lead team members to feel more personally accountable
and emotionally engaged with work processes and outcomes in
their team and organization.
In line with the above-mentioned theorizing, there is empirical
evidence that, as team leaders engage in more empowering behav-
iors, employees respond to these behavioral cues by feeling more
psychologically empowered and affectively committed to their
team and organization (Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007; Den Hartog &
De Hoogh, 2009; Kirkman & Rosen, 1999; Seibert et al., 2004;
Tjosvold & Sun, 2006; Zhang & Bartol, 2010). Thus, the motivat-
ing effects of empowering leadership are likely to be reflected via
positive influences on the two mediating motivational states of
psychological empowerment and affective commitment. Hence,
the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Team leaders’ empowering leadership posi-
tively influences team members’ (a) psychological empower-
ment and (b) affective commitment.
The Demotivating Effects of Relationship Conflict
In contrast to the positive (motivating) influences of empower-
ing leadership on motivational states, relationship conflict is likely
to demotivate team members. High levels of relationship conflict
in a team involve strong interpersonal disagreements and tensions
among members and are usually expressed with negative commu-
nication and lack of cooperativeness among members revealing
feelings of anger, distrust, fear, and frustration (Jehn, 1995, 1997;
Jehn & Mannix, 2001). In contrast, teams characterized by low
levels of relationship conflict experience more harmonious and
collegial interpersonal relationships among members, expressed
with positive communication that reveals feelings of trust and
mutual respect.
Relative to members of teams with lower relationship conflict,
members of teams with higher relationship conflict are more likely
to withdraw effort from their tasks on the team (Jehn, 1995). This
tendency is consistent with threat rigidity theory, which suggests that
individuals freeze up, withdraw, and narrow their perceptual field of
input when they feel threatened by their environment (Staw, Sand-
elands, & Dutton, 1981). Furthermore, Seo, Barrett, and Bartunek
(2004) theorized that unpleasant affective experiences—as is typ-
ical of high levels of relationship conflict (Jehn, 1995)—are neg-
atively linked to motivational states. On the basis of these theories,
we propose that the aversive experiences associated with high
levels of relationship conflict negatively influence psychological
543
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
empowerment because such experiences likely lower team mem-
bers’ sense of work autonomy, confidence in their ability to
accomplish work, sense of impact on outcomes in their team, and
intrinsic enjoyment of the tasks they perform in the team. Like-
wise, heightened relationship conflict in the team is also likely to
lead members feeling less emotionally attached to their team and
organization (i.e., having lower affective commitment).
Although no empirical study to date has documented the pro-
posed negative relationship between relationship conflict and psy-
chological empowerment, theorizing by Staw et al. (1981) and Seo
et al. (2004; see also Seo & Ilies, 2009) supports this expected
negative relationship. Earlier empirical research has likewise doc-
umented a negative association between relationship conflict and
affective commitment (Mills & Schulz, 2009). Furthermore, meta-
analytic findings by Podsakoff et al. (2007) indicate that hindrance
stressors—which, similar to relationship conflict, are perceived by
individuals to thwart their personal growth and goal attainment—
are negatively linked with affective commitment (cf. Podsakoff et
al., 2007). Building on these theories and prior empirical evidence
we thus predict the following:
Hypothesis 2: Relationship conflict in the team negatively
influences team members’ (a) psychological empowerment
and (b) affective commitment.
The Combined Effects of Empowering Leadership
and Relationship Conflict
Although we have theorized that empowering leadership and
relationship conflict exert unique—albeit opposite (positive vs.
negative, respectively)—influences on team members’ motiva-
tional states, these two team stimuli are unlikely to be highly
related. On the one hand, empowering leaders may create more
opportunities for interpersonal conflict to occur since they chal-
lenge members to coordinate as a team how and when they get
their work done rather than direct the team’s work. On the other
hand, more empowering leaders also provide members with more
control and enhance efficacy beliefs for handling such challenges,
both of which reduce interpersonal tensions among members. Of
course, another possibility is that different leaders may react dif-
ferently to the same level of relationship conflict in their teams
(e.g., some leaders may empower their teams to resolve their own
conflicts, whereas others may take a more hands-on approach and
micromanage conflict resolution). Thus, we argue that empower-
ing leadership and relationship conflict reflect independent team
stimuli. However, we propose further that these two team stimuli
interact to affect members’ motivational states.
According to Chen and Kanfer’s (2006) and Kanfer and
Heggestad’s (1997) theories of motivation, motivational stimuli
emanating from person and situation inputs are likely to exert more
potent influences on employee motivation when there is motiva-
tional fit or consistency in the stimuli to which individuals are
exposed. For example, Chen, Kirkman, et al. (2007) found that
team members’ psychological empowerment was more strongly
positively associated with the motivational input of empowering
leadership when this was accompanied by higher (vs. lower) levels
of another motivating leadership input, the quality of leader–
member relationships. Similarly, Hofmann, Morgeson, and Gerras
(2003) showed that a group climate that encouraged safety more
positively related to group members’ motivation to engage in
safety behaviors when members reported having more positive
relationships with their leader.
Extending the motivational fit rationale, we propose that higher
levels of empowering leadership are less likely to exert positive
influences on motivational states in the presence of higher, relative
to lower, levels of relationship conflict because the demotivating
influences of relationship conflict are likely to interfere with the
motivating influences of empowering leadership. For team mem-
bers to effectively handle the heightened levels of autonomy,
control, and self-management encouraged by highly empowering
leaders, they need to work collaboratively with each other, and
such a collaborative and functional work environment is more
likely to be evident in teams with lower, rather than higher, levels
of relationship conflict. In contrast to members of low relationship
conflict teams, members of teams with higher levels of relationship
conflict are less likely to work in a cohesive and collegial manner
when self-managing and coordinating their work or may avoid
each other altogether (Jehn, 1995, 1997). As such, the motivating
influences of higher levels of empowering leadership on team
members’ motivational states are less likely to occur in teams
experiencing higher, versus lower, levels of relationship conflict.
Hence, in addition to Hypotheses 2a and 2b, we also predict the
following:
Hypothesis 3: Empowering leadership influences team mem-
bers’ (a) psychological empowerment and (b) affective com-
mitment more positively when the team has lower, rather than
higher, levels of relationship conflict.
The Mediating Roles of Psychological Empowerment
and Affective Commitment
Theoretical models of motivating team stimuli (Chen & Kanfer,
2006) and demotivating team stimuli (LePine et al., 2005; Podsa-
koff et al., 2007) suggest that motivational states, such as psycho-
logical empowerment and affective commitment, are likely to
capture proximal influences on members’ engagement with work
and willingness to contribute to their team, which serve to mediate
between team stimuli and team members’ behaviors and turnover
intentions. Indeed, scholars have empirically found that psycho-
logical empowerment mediates between empowering leadership
and team members’ performance (Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007) and
that affective commitment mediates between stressors and em-
ployees’ turnover intentions (Podsakoff et al., 2007). In addition,
studies have found that individuals who feel a sense of control,
competence, intrinsic motivation, and ownership in their work—
that is, more psychologically empowered individuals—are more
likely to engage in teamwork behaviors, creativity, and innova-
tiveness (Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007; Gong, Huang, & Farh, 2009;
Seibert et al., 2004; Spreitzer, 1995; Zhang & Bartol, 2010) and
are less likely to desire to leave their organizations (Chen, 2005).
Furthermore, employees with higher levels of affective commit-
ment engage in more innovative (Thompson & Heron, 2006) and
teamwork behaviors (Den Hartog & Belschak, 2007; Luchak &
Gellatly, 2007) and have lower turnover intentions (Luchak &
Gellatly, 2007; Meyer, Allen & Smith, 1993). Thus, there is
empirical support for our identifying team members’ psychologi-
cal empowerment and affective commitment as likely mediators of
544 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
the influences of empowering leadership and relationship conflict
on team members’ behaviors and turnover intentions.
However, the past theorizing and research cited above did not
consider, as we do in this article, the joint influences of empow-
ering leadership and relationship conflict on both positive and
negative team members’ outcomes, as mediated by psychological
empowerment and affective commitment (see Chen & Gogus,
2008; Chen & Kanfer, 2006; Jehn, 1995, 1997; Podsakoff et al.,
2007). Integrating and extending prior models of team motivation,
conflict, and stress, we expected that the joint (unique and inter-
action) effects of empowering leadership and relationship conflict,
as mediated by team members’ psychological empowerment and
affective commitment, would explain variance in both positive and
negative team members’ outcomes, including members’ innova-
tive behavior, teamwork behavior, and turnover intentions. Thus,
we hypothesized the following:
Hypothesis 4: Team members’ psychological empowerment
mediates the joint influences of empowering leadership and
relationship conflict on team members’ (a) innovative behav-
ior, (b) teamwork behavior, and (c) turnover intentions.
Hypothesis 5: Team members’ affective commitment medi-
ates the joint influences of empowering leadership and rela-
tionship conflict on team members’ (a) innovative behavior,
(b) teamwork behavior, and (c) turnover intentions.
The Potential Roles of Cultural Differences
As noted at the outset of the article, most research to date on
motivation in teams has been conducted in Western-based societ-
ies, and it remains unclear whether such findings generalize across
cultures (cf. Gelfand et al., 2007; Tsui et al., 2007). Given our
focus on motivation in teams, one cultural attribute—collectiv-
ism—seemed particularly important to take into account, as it
captures “differences in the extent to which individuals prefer to
act as members of a group and are motivated to maintain positive
image of their group” (Jackson, Colquitt, Wesson, & Zapata-
Phelan, 2006, p. 884). Indeed, a meta-analysis by Taras, Kirkman,
and Steel (2010) documented positive relationships between col-
lectivism and a variety of positive team-oriented outcomes, such as
greater concern for others, ingroup favoritism, conflict avoidance,
and helping and cooperative behaviors.
Following prior work (e.g., Earley, 1989; Jackson et al., 2006;
Kirkman & Shapiro, 2001; Taras et al., 2010), we could envision
two opposite ways in which team members’ collectivism might
affect the relationships in our hypothesized model. On the one
hand, higher levels of collectivism might lead members to be more
motivated in teams regardless of team stimuli, hence reducing the
impact of team stimuli on team members. That is, higher levels of
collectivism might lead members to remain highly motivated in the
context of teams regardless of motivating and demotivating team
stimuli, such as empowering leadership and relationship conflict,
due to the group orientation (i.e., the desire to help a group’s
welfare) that is part of being collectivistic. On the other hand,
higher levels of collectivism might also lead members to be more
in tune with what happens in their teams and care more about
maintaining positive group atmosphere, hence making them more
susceptible to team stimuli. That is, higher levels of collectivism
might also serve to enhance the impact of team stimuli on team
members. Of course, a third possibility is that both collectivism-
related effects serve to countervail each other, leading to an overall
null effect for collectivism.
Thus, although cultural differences—and particularly collectiv-
ism—likely impact motivation in teams, there was no clear theory
of how such differences might affect the relationships in our
model. As such, in an exploratory manner, we examined whether
collectivism directly related to team members’ motivational states
or moderated the influences of empowering leadership and rela-
tionship conflict on team members’ motivational states. In doing
so, we hoped to not only explore the extent to which relationships
in our model generalize across cultural differences but also iden-
tify potential cultural influences on relationships and outcomes in
our model. Therefore, in addition to testing our hypothesized
model, we also sought to explore the following research question:
Research Question: Does collectivism influence team members’ mo-
tivational states, either directly or by moderating the influences of
empowering leadership and relationship conflict?
Overview of Studies
We designed both an experimental study (Study 1) and a field
study (Study 2) to test our model of relationships (see Figure 1).
Given that prior research has examined collectivism as either
individual-level or national-level differences, in both studies we
measured collectivism directly at the individual level but also
contrasted individuals from the United States and the PRC, as
these two societies are known to differ in collectivism (Hofstede,
1980; Kirkman & Shapiro, 2001). In the experiment, we manipu-
lated empowering leadership and relationship conflict and exam-
ined their effects on the motivational states and outcomes using
student samples from the United States and the PRC. The second
study utilized a multilevel, cross-sectional survey design using a
sample of managers and their employees from organizations in the
United States and the PRC. Thus, the two studies sought to
maximize internal validity as well as test the generalizability of
findings across student and organizational samples in two different
national cultures.
Study 1
Method
Sample, design, and procedure. Undergraduate students en-
rolled in management courses in one U.S. university (N57) and
one university in the PRC (N79) were randomly assigned to four
conditions, in a fully crossed, 2 (high vs. low empowering leader-
ship) 2 (high vs. low relationship conflict) factorial design. After
completing a measure of collectivism, participants read one of four
scenarios, which instructed participants to imagine they were mem-
bers of a critical student-run task force in their school and provided
them with a set of e-mails they were told had been sent to them by
their team’s leader and two additional task force members. The
e-mails’ content distinguished the four conditions by containing our
manipulation of high versus low levels of empowering leadership and
relationship conflict. The scenarios were realistic and relevant to our
study outcomes, in that they reflected a student-run task force partic-
545
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
ipants might actually encounter, which would require students to
engage in innovative and teamwork behaviors and avoid turnover, to
maximize task force success. Following the scenarios, participants
completed the manipulation checks, measures of psychological em-
powerment and affective commitment, and, given the hypothetical
nature of scenario-based experiments, measures of participants’ in-
tentions to engage in innovative and teamwork behaviors and to quit
the task force. The scenarios and measures were administered in
English to the U.S. participants and in Chinese to the PRC partici-
pants, after employing standard translation and back-translation pro-
cedures (Brislin, 1980).
2
Manipulations.
Empowering leadership. In the high empowering leadership
condition, the two e-mails from the team leader that participants
read reflected leadership behaviors such as expressing confidence
in the team’s ability to carry out its task successfully, allowing the
team to self-manage its work and make decisions on its own, and
highlighting the relevance of their task to the school’s leadership.
In contrast, in the low empowering leadership condition, the two
e-mails from the team leader reflected leadership behaviors such as
expressing doubts about the team’s ability to carry out its task
successfully, prohibiting the team from making decisions without
the leader, closely monitoring the team’s work, and informing the
team that the school’s leadership would likely rely on the leader’s
rather than the team’s recommendations.
Relationship conflict. The high and low relationship conflict
conditions also involved two e-mail messages, reflecting an ex-
change between two task force members. In the high relationship
conflict condition, the e-mails included highly contentious per-
sonal disagreements and attacks between the two members. In
contrast, in the low relationship conflict condition, the e-mails
reflected a more cordial and collegial exchange between the two
task force members.
Measures. Descriptive statistics, internal consistency reliability
(alpha) coefficients, and correlations involving measures are reported
in Table 1. Unless otherwise noted, all measures used a 5-point
Likert-type scale (1 strongly disagree, 5strongly agree).
Dependent variable measures. Using two different four-item
scales modified from Welbourne et al. (1998), participants rated
their intent to engage in innovative behaviors (e.g., “I would
probably work to implement new ideas”) and in teamwork behav-
iors (e.g., “I would probably work to make sure the Task Force
succeeds”). To assess the extent to which participants intended to
leave the task force, participants were asked to respond to four
modified items taken from Kelloway and colleagues’ (1999) mea-
sure of turnover intentions (e.g., “I would probably think about
leaving this Task Force”).
Psychological empowerment and affective commitment. To
assess the extent to which participants felt individually empow-
ered, based on the manipulated scenarios, participants responded
to 12 statements taken from Spreitzer’s (1995) measure of indi-
vidual empowerment with the following instructions: “How
strongly do you agree with the statements below regarding how
you would probably feel about your work on the Task Force?”
(e.g., “I have significant autonomy in determining how I do my
job”). Similarly, participants indicated their likely level of affec-
tive commitment to the task force using eight modified items from
Allen and Meyer’s (1990) measure (e.g., “I would probably feel a
strong sense of belonging to my Task Force”).
Manipulation checks. We also administered measures of the
task force leader’s empowering leadership and the level of rela-
tionship conflict in the task force. Participants indicated how
strongly they agreed with Kirkman and Rosen’s (1999) 14-item
scale, with the task force’s leader as the referent (e.g., “My Task
Force leader gives my work unit many responsibilities”; ␣⫽.94).
To assess the degree of relationship conflict in the task force,
participants responded to Jehn and Mannix’s (2001) three-item
measure (e.g., “How much relationship tension is there in your
Task Force?”; 1 none, 5a lot;␣⫽.94). Analyses of variance
tests of the empowering leadership manipulation check measure as
outcome indicated a significant main effect for the empowering
leadership manipulation, M
high empowering leadership
4.08, M
low
empowering leadership
2.68, F(1, 132) 232.42, p.05,
2
.64,
but nonsignificant main effect for the relationship conflict manip-
ulation, M
high relationship conflict
3.34, M
low relationship conflict
3.39, F(1, 132) 0.11, ns,
2
.00. In contrast, analyses of
variance tests of the relationship conflict manipulation check mea-
sure as outcome indicated a significant main effect for the rela-
tionship conflict manipulation, M
high relationship conflict
4.06, M
low
relationship conflict
2.26, F(1, 132) 176.59, p.05,
2
.57,
but nonsignificant main effect for the empowering leadership
manipulation, M
high empowering leadership
3.12, M
low empowering
leadership
3.20, F(1, 132) 0.12, ns,
2
.00. These results
provide strong evidence for the efficacy and validity of the two
manipulations.
In addition, participants completed the following three questions
after reading the scenarios: (a) “It is realistic that I might experience
a supervisor like J.P.,” (b) “It is realistic that I might experience
team-events like those described above in the Task Force,” and (c)
“At some point during my career I will probably encounter a situation
like the one described above.” The mean score across the three items
was high (means ranged from 3.92 to 4.05 out of 5), and multivariate
analysis of variance tests indicated no significant differences in ratings
due to the empowering leadership condition, F(3, 130) 2.18, ns; the
relationship conflict condition, F(3, 130) 1.72, ns; or the interaction
between the conditions, F(3, 130) 0.37, ns. These results indicate
that the scenarios were deemed highly realistic by participants, irre-
spective of condition.
Control variables. We controlled for participants’ nationality
and individual-level collectivism. Participant nationality (1 PRC
Chinese; 2 U.S. American) was selected to evaluate the extent
to which results held when taking into account culturally distinct
country-level differences. Students’ self-reported collectivism was
assessed by asking participants to respond to six statements taken
from Dorfman and Howell’s (1988) measure of individual-level
collectivism (e.g., “Group success is more important than individ-
ual success”).
Confirmatory factor analyses. We examined the validity of
the measures using confirmatory factor analyses in LISREL
(Jöreskog & Sörbom, 1993). To form the measurement models, we
created three parcels each for the psychological empowerment,
2
Given the small sample size in this study, we did not conduct tests of
measurement invariance to examine the equivalence of measures across the
two languages. However, we do report evidence for measurement invari-
ance across languages in Study 2, which had a larger sample, using the
same measures (applied to the field setting).
546 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
affective commitment, and collectivism measures. The scales for
innovative and teamwork behaviors and turnover intentions con-
sisted of only three or four items, so these measures were not
parceled. The six-factor measurement model, which allowed all
factors to correlate freely with each other, fit the data well,
2
(176,
N136) 321.75, root-mean-square error of approximation
(RMSEA) .08, comparative fit index (CFI) .96. An alterna-
tive one-factor model in which the correlations between all six
factors were set to 1.0 fit the data significantly worse than the
six-factor model, ⌬␹
2
(15) 1,115.17, p.05, RMSEA .24,
CFI .77. The six-factor model also fit the data significantly
better relative to an alternative four-factor model in which the
correlations between psychological empowerment and affective
commitment and between innovative and teamwork behaviors
were set to 1.0, ⌬␹
2
(2) 174.81, p.05, RMSEA .12, CFI
.93. These results support the validity of the measures.
Analysis strategy. We tested Hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 using
hierarchical regressions, after grand-mean centering the indepen-
dent variables (empowering leadership, relationship conflict, and
their interaction). We tested Hypotheses 4 and 5 using the
bootstrapping-based test developed by MacKinnon, Lockwood,
and Williams (2004), which provides a 95% confidence interval
for the indirect effect (i.e., the indirect effect is significant when
the 95% confidence interval excludes zero).
Results
Hypotheses tests. Regression analyses of hypotheses are
reported in Table 2. Our first two hypotheses predicted that em-
powering leadership would positively influence psychological em-
powerment (Hypothesis 1a) and affective commitment (Hypothe-
sis 1b), while relationship conflict would negatively influence
psychological empowerment (Hypothesis 2a) and affective com-
mitment (Hypothesis 2b). Supporting Hypotheses 1a and 1b, em-
powering leadership significantly and positively predicted psycho-
logical empowerment (␤⫽.73, p.05; Model 1) and affective
commitment (␤⫽.26, p.05; Model 3). In support of Hypoth-
eses 2a and 2b, relationship conflict significantly and negatively
predicted psychological empowerment (␤⫽⫺.25, p.05; Model
1) and affective commitment (␤⫽⫺.73, p.05; Model 3).
Our next two hypotheses predicted that empowering leadership
and relationship conflict would interact to affect psychological
empowerment (Hypothesis 3a) and affective commitment (Hy-
pothesis 3b). Consistent with both hypotheses, relationship conflict
significantly interacted with empowering leadership to affect both
psychological empowerment (␤⫽⫺.44, p.05; Model 2) and
affective commitment (␤⫽⫺.69, p.05; Model 4). To probe the
nature of these effects, we plotted the interactions following Aiken
and West’s (1991) procedures. As shown in Figure 2, in support of
Hypothesis 3a, empowering leadership affected psychological em-
powerment more positively when relationship conflict was low
(dashed line) versus high (solid line). In addition, supporting
Hypothesis 3b, Figure 3 shows that empowering leadership also
affected affective commitment more positively when relationship
conflict was low (dashed line) relative to high (solid line).
Next, we turn to our mediation hypotheses (Hypotheses 4 and
5). Table 2 summarizes ordinary least squares regression analyses
of outcomes. In line with Hypotheses 4a–4c, after taking into
account controls and the independent variables, psychological
empowerment significantly predicted innovative behavior (␤⫽
.35, p.05; Model 6), teamwork behavior (␤⫽.42, p.05;
Model 8), and turnover intentions (␤⫽⫺.35, p.05; Model 10).
Similarly, as suggested by Hypotheses 5a–5c, affective commit-
ment significantly predicted innovative behavior (␤⫽.43, p
.05; Model 6), teamwork behavior (␤⫽.43, p.05; Model 8),
and turnover intentions (␤⫽⫺.84, p.05; Model 10) above and
beyond the independent variables. These results provide initial
support for Hypotheses 4 and 5.
The indirect (i.e., mediated) effects, reflecting the product of the
estimated independent variable 3mediator effect and the estimated
mediator 3dependent variable effect, as well as their respective
bootstrapped 95% confidence intervals from MacKinnon et al.’s
(2004) test, are reported in Table 3. As shown in Table 3, all 18
indirect effects were statistically significant. In particular, in sup-
port of Hypotheses 4a, 4b, and 4c, psychological empowerment
significantly mediated the effects of empowering leadership, rela-
tionship conflict, and the Empowering Leadership Relationship
Conflict interaction on innovative behavior, teamwork behavior,
and turnover intentions, respectively. Furthermore, supporting Hy-
potheses 5a, 5b, and 5c, affective commitment also significantly
mediated the effects of empowering leadership, relationship con-
flict, and the Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict
interaction on innovative behavior, teamwork behavior, and turn-
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations (Study 1)
Variable MSD 123456789
1. Nationality
a
1.42 0.50
2. Collectivism 3.57 0.58 .01 (.71)
3. Empowering leadership 0.49 0.50 .00 .18
4. Relationship conflict 0.50 0.50 .02 .04 .02 —
5. Psychological empowerment 3.27 0.73 .28
.10 .45
.18
(.91)
6. Affective commitment 2.96 0.68 .06 .08 .20
.52
.52
(.76)
7. Turnover intentions 3.19 1.07 .09 .10 .29
.42
.59
.71
(.92)
8. Innovative behavior 3.75 0.88 .29
.04 .28
.14 .52
.43
.37
(.93)
9. Teamwork behavior 3.68 0.74 .13 .04 .21
.32
.58
.58
.51
.65
(.86)
Note.N136. Reliability estimates (coefficient alpha) are on the diagonal. Empowering leadership and relationship conflict conditions were coded as
0low and 1 high.
a
1Chinese; 2 U.S. American.
p.05.
547
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
over intentions, respectively. Importantly, with the exception of
the effect of the Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict
interaction on teamwork behavior (Model 8), the independent
variables did not predict the outcomes when taking the mediators
into account. Thus, the joint influences of empowering leadership
and relationship conflict on the three outcomes were fully medi-
ated by psychological empowerment and affective commitment.
Effects of cultural differences. Table 2 indicates further that
U.S. American participants felt significantly more psychologically
empowered (Model 1) and indicated greater willingness to engage
in innovative behavior relative to Chinese participants (Model 5).
Also, collectivism positively related to psychological empower-
ment (Model 1) and negatively related to turnover intentions
(Model 10). Despite controlling for these cultural differences,
results supported our hypotheses. Using additional moderated re-
gression analyses, we also examined whether the unique and
interaction effects of empowering leadership and relationship con-
flict on the two mediators were moderated by participants’ nation-
ality or collectivism. None of these interactions reached statistical
significance (p.10), suggesting that empowering leadership and
relationship conflict influenced the two motivational states simi-
larly across the two societies and that our model of relationships
was supported irrespective of individual-level and societal-level
1.00
1.50
2.00
2.50
3.00
Low Empowering
Leadership
High Empowering
Leadership
Psychological Empowerment
Low Relationship Conflict
High Relationship Conflict
Figure 2. Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction
effect on psychological empowerment (Study 1).
2.50
3.00
3.50
4.00
Low Empowering
Leadership
High Empowering
Leadership
Affective Commitment
Low Relationship Conflict
High Relationship Conflic
t
Figure 3. Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction
effect on affective commitment (Study 1).
Table 2
Ordinary Least Squares Regression Analyses of Mediating and Dependent Variables (Study 1)
Variable
Psychological
empowerment Affective commitment Innovative behavior Teamwork behavior Turnover intentions
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Model 8 Model 9 Model 10
Nationality
a
.40 (.10)
.39 (.10)
.04 (.10) .03 (.09) .51 (.14)
.36 (.14)
.18 (.12) .00 (.10) .14 (.16) .03 (.13)
Collectivism .24 (.09)
.23 (.09)
.08 (.08) .08 (.08) .01 (.12) .04 (.12) .08 (.10) .02 (.09) .25 (.14) .24 (.11)
Empowering leadership .73 (.10)
.72 (.10)
.26 (.10)
.26 (.09)
.50 (.14)
.13 (.15) .32 (.12)
.09 (.11) .68 (.16)
.21 (.14)
Relationship conflict .25 (.10)
.25 (.10)
.73 (.10)
.72 (.09)
.23 (.14) .17 (.15) .47 (.10)
.05 (.12) .89 (.15)
.20 (.15)
Empowering Leadership Relationship
Conflict interaction .44 (.20)
.69 (.18)
.26 (.28) .19 (.27) .03 (.24) .45 (.20)
.70 (.31)
.03 (.25)
Psychological empowerment .35 (.12)
.42 (.09)
.35 (.12)
Affective commitment .43 (.14)
.43 (.11)
.84 (.13)
R
2
.36
.38
.34
.41
.19
.35
.17
.47
.33
.60
Note.N136. Table entries represent unstandardized parameter estimates with standard errors in parentheses.
a
1Chinese; 2 U.S. American.
p.05.
548 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
cultural differences—at least, differences likely to be observed
between U.S. Americans and Chinese.
Discussion
In summary, the results from the experimental study provide
strong support for our hypothesized model. In particular, the
average (absolute) effects of empowering leadership and relation-
ship conflict on the two motivational states were nearly identical
(average b.49, .50, respectively) yet in the opposite direction,
suggesting that the motivating effects of empowering leadership
on motivational states were very similar to the demotivating ef-
fects of relationship conflict. Additionally, we found that the
effects of empowering leadership on both psychological empow-
erment and affective commitment were more positive when rela-
tionship conflict was low, rather than high. Furthermore, both
psychological empowerment and affective commitment helped to
link the unique and joint influences of empowering leadership and
relationship conflict on our dependent variables of innovative
behavior, teamwork behavior, and turnover intentions.
Importantly, our results held even after controlling for differ-
ences in participants’ nationality (United States vs. PRC) and
collectivism and generalized across the U.S. and PRC samples.
Furthermore, we found that cultural differences at the individual
level and societal level exerted different effects on motivation, in
that individual-level collectivism related positively to psycholog-
ical empowerment, whereas psychological empowerment was sig-
nificantly higher among U.S. than PRC participants (i.e., in a less
collectivistic society).
Although this study involved random assignment into experi-
mentally controlled conditions and thus high internal validity,
there are two notable limitations. First, because the experimental
design manipulated empowering leadership and relationship con-
flict in a controlled and hypothetical environment, we were only
able to test our model’s outcome variables by measuring partici-
pants’ intent to behave, as opposed to actual behavior. Second, our
laboratory study was conducted using an undergraduate student
population in a classroom context. Thus, this study has limited
construct and external validity. To overcome these limitations, we
designed a second study with a sample of managers and employees
in a field setting.
Study 2
Method
Sample and procedures. Participants were 144 leaders en-
rolled in executive master’s of business administration leadership
development courses taught by a large public U.S. university in the
United States and in the PRC, as well as their respective followers.
Leaders identified up to five subordinates (i.e., direct reports) from
their work teams, generating a sample of 566 potential followers
from 144 teams. The 566 followers represented 60% of the 945
members belonging to the 144 teams (average team size 6.56).
Teams consisted of management, production, project, and service
teams, and prestudy interviews with leaders indicated that these
teams required members to work interdependently toward com-
mon goals. The final sample was restricted to teams where one
leader and at least two followers provided complete data, yielding
a usable sample of 105 leaders (out of 144, or 73% survey response
rate) and 386 followers (out of 566, or 68% survey response rate),
with an average of 3.68 (range 2–5) members per team/leader.
On average, the percentage of members sampled within team (i.e.,
team response rate, calculated as the number of completed team
members’ surveys received divided by team size) was 65%. Of
these, 41 leaders were Chinese, 38 teams included all-Chinese
members (leader and followers), 54 teams were all-U.S. members,
and 13 included a mixture of U.S. and Chinese members (mixed
Table 3
Indirect Effects of Empowering Leadership and Relationship Conflict on Outcomes (Study 1)
Variable Indirect effect 95% confidence interval
Psychological empowerment as mediator (tests of Hypothesis 4)
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .26
[.08, .46]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .09
[.20, .01]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .15
[.36, .01]
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .31
[.16, .47]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .11
[.21, .05]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .18
[.39, .02]
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .26
[.45, .08]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .09
[.01, .20]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .15
[.01, .36]
Affective commitment as mediator (tests of Hypothesis 5)
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .11
[.02, .24]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .31
[.54, .10]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .30
[.58, .09]
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .11
[.02, .23]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .31
[.51, .15]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .30
[.54, .11]
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .22
[.41, .05]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .61
[.38, .88]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .58
[.26, .96]
p.05.
549
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
teams largely consisted of expatriate leaders and/or followers
working in the PRC).
3
Leaders were told that their followers would be asked to anon-
ymously provide feedback about the leaders’ leadership style.
Given that leaders received developmental feedback in return for
participation, they were encouraged to identify representative team
members (not only those who might hold favorable views of
them). Followers were contacted directly by the researchers with
an e-mail note explaining that as part of a leadership development
exercise, they were being asked to provide anonymous feedback
about their leader. This e-mail stated that (a) participation was
voluntary, (b) the survey website was managed by independent
researchers (and not their organization’s management), and (c)
leaders would not have access to each follower’s individual re-
sponse but, rather, would receive feedback in aggregate form only.
Leaders and followers completed their online surveys in their
native language (English or Chinese). Prior to the study, English-
version surveys were translated and back-translated into Chinese
in accordance with established cross-cultural translation proce-
dures (Brislin, 1980).
Followers completed measures of psychological empowerment,
affective commitment, and turnover intentions and rated their
leader’s empowering leadership and their team’s level of relation-
ship conflict. Given conceptual arguments (Chen & Kanfer, 2006;
Hackman, 1992) that the team provides the immediate context in
which most organizational experiences occur and empirical evi-
dence (Kirkman & Rosen, 1999) suggesting that commitment to
one’s team and to one’s firm operate similarly, measures of affec-
tive commitment and turnover intentions used the organization,
rather than the team, as referent. Leaders rated their followers’
innovative and teamwork behavior.
4
We also included several
control measures, as indicated below.
Measures. Descriptive statistics, internal consistency reliabil-
ity (alpha) coefficients, and correlations involving measures from
Study 2 are reported in Table 4. Note that we employed the same
measures of all substantive constructs as in Study 1, except that we
used the original versions of these measures in this study rather
than the versions modified to fit the experimental scenarios devel-
oped in Study 1. Unless otherwise noted, measures used a 5-point
Likert-type scale (1 strongly disagree, 5strongly agree).
Followers’ innovative and teamwork behaviors. Using Wel-
bourne et al.’s (1998) four-item measure of innovative behavior
and four-item measure of teamwork behavior, leaders rated the
level of each of their followers’ innovative behavior and teamwork
behavior. The individual follower was the focal referent for these
ratings of innovative and teamwork behaviors, and hence, these
measures were treated at the individual level of analysis, consistent
with our theoretical focus on individual innovative and teamwork
behaviors in teams.
Followers’ turnover intentions. To assess the extent to which
followers intended to leave their firms, followers responded to
Kelloway, Gottlieb, and Barham’s (1999) four-item measure. Con-
sistent with our theory, followers’ turnover intentions were treated
at the individual level of analysis.
Empowering leadership behaviors. Followers rated their team
leader’s empowering leadership using Kirkman and Rosen’s (1999)
14-item scale. The team’s leader was the focal referent for the em-
powering behaviors ratings, and hence, consistent with our theoretical
focus, this measure was treated at the team level of analysis.
Average intermember agreement (r
wg(j)
, with a uniform expected
variance distribution) across units was .98, and in addition,
ICC(1) .14, F(104, 281) 1.62, p.05, and ICC(2) .40.
These results indicate strong within-team agreement (LeBreton &
Senter, 2008) and sufficient intermember reliability (Bliese, 2000),
supporting the aggregation of empowering leader behaviors scores
to the work unit level.
Relationship conflict in the team. To assess the degree of
relationship conflict in their team, followers completed Jehn and
Mannix’s (2001) three-item scale (1 none, 5a lot). Scores
were aggregated using team means to reflect team-level relation-
ship conflict. In support of aggregation, average intermember
agreement (r
wg(j)
, with a uniform expected variance distribution)
across units was .88, ICC(1) .19, F(104, 281) 2.05, p.05,
and ICC(2) .51.
Followers’ psychological empowerment and affective commit-
ment. Followers indicated the extent to which they personally
felt psychologically empowered, using the 12-item scale devel-
oped by Spreitzer (1995). Followers also reported the extent to
which they felt affectively committed to their organization, using
the eight-item scale developed by Allen and Meyer (1990). In line
with our theory, followers’ psychological empowerment and af-
fective commitment were examined at the individual level of
analysis.
Control variables. We controlled for several variables in this
study. First, leaders indicated their nationality (Chinese or U.S. Amer-
ican) to control for possible cultural differences in leadership behav-
iors and leader–follower relationships. Second, we also controlled for
leaders’ organizational tenure (number of years since being hired by
the organization) since this could explain differences attributed to
organization-related experience. Leader nationality and tenure were
measured at the team level, as there was only one leader per team.
Third, as in Study 1, we also controlled for follower nationality
(Chinese or U.S. American; provided by followers) to control for
possible cultural differences in followers’ reactions to leaders. Fourth,
we also controlled for followers’ collectivism, by asking followers to
complete the same six-item measure of collectivism employed in
Study 1 (Dorfman & Howell, 1988). Finally, we measured followers’
organizational tenure (number of years since being hired by the
3
Given that team response rates differed across teams, we reanalyzed
the data with team response rate as control. Results (available upon
request) indicated that differences in team response rates did not signifi-
cantly relate to any of the outcomes and that controlling for team response
rate did not affect any of the findings we report.
4
To ensure the individual-level outcomes were relevant to team effec-
tiveness in this sample, we examined the correlations between average
levels of each outcome in the team and an index of team effectiveness.
Specifically, team members completed a five-item measure of team per-
formance developed by Kirkman and Rosen (1999; e.g., “My work team
produces high quality work”; 1 strongly disagree, 5strong agree).
Team members’ ratings yielded high interrater agreement (average r
wg(j)
.89) and a sufficient level of interrater reliability, ICC(1) .20, ICC(2)
.48, F(104, 281) 1.93, p.05, supporting aggregation to the team level.
Team-level analyses revealed significant correlations between team per-
formance and average member innovative behavior in the team (r.28,
p.05), average member teamwork behavior in the team (r.31, p
.05), and average member turnover intentions in the team (r⫽⫺.20, p
.05), supporting the relevance of each outcome in this sample.
550 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
organization) to control for possible performance differences due to
differences in organizational experience.
Confirmatory factor analyses. Although we followed Bris-
lin’s (1980) translation–back-translation procedures, we examined
further the validity of the measures using several confirmatory factor
analyses in LISREL. We focused only on measures collected from
followers since there was a sufficient sample size (N386) for
testing these measures and common-method biases were more likely
among these measures. For all analyses, we created three parcels of
items per scale by randomly combining items into three parcels per
scale (except for relationship conflict and turnover intentions, which
were measured by only three and four items per scale, respectively).
A first set of analyses examined the extent to which the six
measures obtained from followers (relationship conflict, empow-
ering leadership, psychological empowerment, affective commit-
ment, turnover intentions, and collectivism) were sufficiently dis-
tinct. The hypothesized six-factor model fit the data very well,
2
(137, N386) 216.74, RMSEA .04, CFI .99. An
alternative one-factor model in which the correlation among all
factors was set to 1.0 fit the data significantly worse than the
hypothesized six-factor model, ⌬␹
2
(15) 3,026.20, p.05,
RMSEA .24, CFI .63. The six-factor model also fit the data
significantly better than an alternative five-factor model, in which
the correlation between psychological empowerment and affective
commitment was set at 1.0, ⌬␹
2
(1) 241.97, p.05, RMSEA
.08, CFI .96. These results support the discriminant validity of
measures collected from followers.
A second set of analyses was conducted to support the psycho-
metric equivalence of measures collected in Chinese (from 170
followers) versus English (from 216 followers). First, we found
that the hypothesized six-factor model fit very well in the Chinese
subsample,
2
(137, N170) 195.04, RMSEA .05, CFI
.98, and the English subsample,
2
(137, N216) 236.54,
RMSEA .06, CFI .97. In addition, the hypothesized six-factor
model fit the data significantly better than the alternative one-
factor model in which all the constructs correlated at 1.0 in both
the Chinese subsample, ⌬␹
2
(15) 1,601.30, p.05, RMSEA
.25, CFI .54, and the English subsample, ⌬␹
2
(15) 1,637.35,
p.05, RMSEA .23, CFI .58. Finally, a multigroup
confirmatory factor analysis conducted using LISREL on the Chi-
nese and English subsamples indicated that the six-factor model in
which the factor correlations and factor loadings were set to be
equal across the two subsamples fit the data sufficiently well,
2
(327, N170,216) 688.53, RMSEA .08, CFI .94. These
results support the psychometric equivalence of the measures
across the two languages (Vandenberg & Lance, 2000).
Analysis strategy. Due to the multilevel nature of our theo-
retical hypotheses and data, our individual-level data were likely
nonindependent. Indeed, ICC(1) values for innovative behavior
(.41), teamwork behavior (.34), and turnover intentions (.24) in-
dicated that team differences accounted for between 24% and 41%
of the total variance in individual-level outcomes. Therefore, we
tested the hypotheses with random coefficient modeling (RCM)
using the hierarchical linear modeling statistical package (Rauden-
bush, Bryk, & Congdon, 2004; see also Hofmann, Griffin, &
Gavin, 2000). RCM first partitions the total variance in individual-
level outcomes into within-unit (Level 1, or individual level) and
between-unit (Level 2, or team level) components. Next, RCM
regresses the Level 1 variance in the outcome on Level 1 predic-
tors, and the Level 2 variance in the outcome on Level 2 predic-
tors. In our analyses, Level 2 predictors included leader national-
ity, leader organizational tenure, empowering leadership,
relationship conflict, and the Empowering Leadership Relation-
ship Conflict interaction, whereas Level 1 predictors included
follower nationality, organizational tenure, collectivism, psycho-
logical empowerment, affective commitment, innovative behavior,
teamwork behavior, and turnover intentions.
5
5
Given that there were only two nationalities and that team members
were not nested neatly under the two nationalities (i.e., leaders from either
nationality led teams whose members were either all U.S. Americans, all
Chinese, or from both nations), we could not model nationality as a Level
3 variable. However, we captured differences in nationality appropriately
by including leader nationality as a Level 2 (team-level) dummy variable
and follower nationality as a Level 1 (individual-level) variable in all
analyses (cf. Bliese, 2002; Hofmann et al., 2000).
Table 4
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations (Study 2)
Variable MSD 123456789101112
1. Leader nationality
a
1.60 0.49
2. Leader tenure 6.67 4.60 .09 —
3. Follower nationality
a
1.50 0.50 .81
.01 —
4. Follower tenure 4.76 5.61 .06 .30
.11
5. Follower collectivism 3.44 0.59 .35
.02 .37
.04 (.71)
6. Empowering leadership 3.98 0.30 .10
.08 .16
.11
.10
(.89)
7. Relationship conflict 2.16 0.48 .13
.12
.10
.06 .06 .35
(.85)
8. Psychological empowerment 4.09 0.54 .13
.02 .17
.17
.08 .27
.08 (.90)
9. Affective commitment 3.56 0.69 .05 .00 .02 .21
.17
.30
.17
.45
(.81)
10. Turnover intentions 2.10 1.03 .07 .01 .02 .09 .15
.25
.24
.33
.54
(.96)
11. Innovative behavior 3.42 0.98 .22
.03 .25
.02 .06 .16
.05 .25
.08 .09 (.97)
12. Teamwork Behavior 3.94 0.80 .19
.00 .21
.05 .06 .15
.03 .18
.15
.15
.52
(.95)
Note.N386 followers. Reliability estimates (coefficient alpha) are on the diagonal.
a
1Chinese; 2 U.S. American.
p.05.
551
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
Similar to Study 1, we employed hierarchical models to test
Hypotheses 1–3. To test for the mediation hypotheses (Hypotheses
4 and 5), we employed MacKinnon et al.’s (2004) test, given that
this test is also appropriate for multilevel mediation models (see
Bauer, Preacher, & Gil, 2006). In all analyses, we grand-mean-
centered the variables, as in Study 1. Although estimates of effect
sizes are only tenuous in cross-level models, we nonetheless report
Snijders and Bosker’s (1999) pseudo-R
2
(R
2
), which is based on
proportional reduction of total (both Level 1 and Level 2) errors
due to predictors in the model.
Results and Discussion
Hypotheses tests. RCM tests of Hypotheses 1, 2, and 3 are
summarized in Table 5. In support of Hypotheses 1a and 1b,
respectively, empowering leadership was found to have a signifi-
cant cross-level relationship with psychological empowerment
(␥⫽.50, p.05; Model 1) and affective commitment (␥⫽.56,
p.05; Model 3). In contrast to Hypothesis 2a, relationship
conflict did not exhibit a significant cross-level relationship with
psychological empowerment (␥⫽.00, ns; Model 1), yet in support
of Hypothesis 2b, relationship conflict did significantly relate to
affective commitment (␥⫽⫺.12, p.05; Model 3). Furthermore,
the cross-level influence of the Empowering Leadership Rela-
tionship Conflict interaction on psychological empowerment was
nonsignificant (␥⫽⫺.14, ns; Model 2), failing to support Hy-
pothesis 3a. However, in support of Hypothesis 3b, the Empow-
ering Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction exhibited a
significant cross-level relationship with affective commitment
(␥⫽⫺.46, p.05; Model 4). In line with Hypothesis 3b and
similar to Study 1 results, Figure 4 shows that empowering lead-
ership related to affective commitment more positively when re-
lationship conflict was low (dashed line) versus high (solid line).
Table 5 also summarizes analyses of the three outcomes (Mod-
els 5–10), which tested whether the mediators (psychological
empowerment and affective commitment) uniquely related to the
outcomes—a precondition for mediation. In line with Hypotheses
4a and 4c, psychological empowerment significantly predicted
innovative behavior (␤⫽.31, p.05; Model 6) and turnover
intentions (␤⫽⫺.22, p.05; Model 10) above and beyond the
independent variables (empowering leadership, relationship con-
flict, and the Leadership Conflict interaction). In contrast to
Hypothesis 4b, psychological empowerment did not significantly
predict teamwork behavior (␤⫽.05, ns; Model 8). In addition, in
line with Hypotheses 5b and 5c, affective commitment signifi-
cantly predicted teamwork behavior (␤⫽.14, p.05; Model 8)
and turnover intentions (␤⫽⫺.64, p.05; Model 10) after
controlling for the independent variables. However, in contrast to
Hypothesis 5a, affective commitment did not significantly predict
innovative behavior (␤⫽⫺.02, ns; Model 6).
To test more fully the mediation hypotheses (Hypotheses 4–5),
we conducted MacKinnon et al.’s (2004) tests of indirect effects,
which are summarized in Table 6. In partial support of Hypotheses
4a and 4c, empowering leadership related indirectly—through
psychological empowerment—to both innovative behavior (indi-
rect effect estimate .16, p.05) and turnover intentions
(indirect effect estimate ⫽⫺.11, p.05), respectively. However,
all other indirect effects through psychological empowerment (i.e.,
those involving teamwork behavior as outcome and either rela-
Table 5
Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analyses of Mediating and Dependent Variables (Study 2)
Predictor
Psychological
empowerment Affective commitment Innovative behavior Teamwork behavior Turnover intentions
Model 1 Model 2 Model 3 Model 4 Model 5 Model 6 Model 7 Model 8 Model 9 Model 10
Follower-level
Nationality
a
.28 (.08)
.27 (.08)
.16 (.12) .14 (.12) .61 (.41) .53 (.42) .18 (.16) .13 (.17) .26 (.21) .09 (.19)
Tenure .01 (.00)
.01 (.00)
.02 (.01)
.02 (.01)
.01 (.01) .02 (.01)
.00 (.01) .00 (.01) .01 (.01) .01 (.01)
Collectivism .13 (.05)
.14 (.05)
.20 (.07)
.21 (.07)
.07 (.08) .01 (.08) .05 (.09) .01 (.09) .26 (.10)
.09 (.09)
Psychological empowerment .31 (.10)
.05 (.08) .22 (.08)
Affective commitment .02 (.07) .14 (.06)
.64 (.07)
Team-level
Leader nationality
a
.01 (.08) .00 (.08) .08 (.13) .05 (.13) .02 (.40) .02 (.41) .23 (.17) .25 (.18) .14 (.21) .09 (.17)
Leader tenure .00 (.01) .00 (.01) .01 (.01) .00 (.01) .01 (.01) .02 (.01) .01 (.01) .01 (.01) .00 (.01) .00 (.01)
Empowering leadership .50 (.09)
.51 (.09)
.56 (.12)
.60 (.12)
.62 (.26)
.48 (.27) .46 (.21)
.34 (.22) .71 (.20)
.20 (.19)
Relationship conflict .00 (.06) .01 (.06) .12 (.06)
.17 (.07)
.09 (.15) .08 (.15) .04 (.13) .01 (.13) .48 (.12)
.36 (.10)
Empowering Leadership Relationship
Conflict interaction .14 (.15) .46 (.18)
.14 (.44) .10 (.45) .13 (.32) .05 (.32) 1.12 (.24)
.77 (.21)
R
2
.15
.15
.16
.17
.08
.10
.06
.07
.15
.33
Note.N105 leaders/work units and 386 followers. Table entries represent unstandardized parameter estimates with standard errors in parentheses.
a
1Chinese; 2 U.S. American.
p.05.
552 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
tionship conflict or the Empowering Leadership Relationship
Conflict interaction as antecedents) were not supported. Thus,
Hypotheses 4a and 4c received mixed support, but Hypothesis 4b
was not supported.
In addition, all indirect effects involving affective commitment
and innovative behavior were not statistically significant, failing to
support Hypothesis 5a (see Table 6). However, in partial support
of Hypothesis 5b, the indirect relationships of empowering lead-
ership (indirect effect estimate .08, p.05) and the Empow-
ering Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction (indirect
effect estimate ⫽⫺.06, p.05) with teamwork behavior through
affective commitment were statistically significant. Furthermore,
the indirect relationship of relationship conflict with teamwork
behavior through affective commitment was not significant, and
hence, Hypothesis 4b was only partially supported. Finally,
Hypothesis 5c received full support, as empowering leadership
(indirect effect estimate ⫽⫺.36, p.05), relationship conflict
(indirect effect estimate .08, p.05), and the Empowering
Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction (indirect effect
estimate .29, p.05) all exhibited significant indirect
relationships with turnover intentions through affective com-
mitment.
In summary, replicating findings from Study 1, results from
Study 2 provided at least partial support for eight of the 12
hypothesized paths. Specifically, results showed that (a) empow-
ering leadership positively related to members’ psychological em-
powerment (Hypothesis 1a) and affective commitment (Hypothe-
sis 1b), (b) relationship conflict negatively related to affective
commitment (Hypothesis 2b) and negatively moderated the rela-
tionship between empowering leadership and affective commit-
ment (Hypothesis 3b), (c) psychological empowerment mediated
the relationships of empowering leadership with innovative behav-
ior (Hypothesis 4a) and turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c), and
(d) affective commitment mediated the relationships of empower-
ing leadership and the Empowering Leadership Relationship
Conflict interaction with teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b), as
well as the relationships of empowering leadership, relationship
conflict, and the Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict
interaction with turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c). Thus, overall,
empowering leadership, relationship conflict, and the Empowering
Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction each significantly
predicted at least one of the two mediators. Furthermore, psycho-
logical empowerment and affective commitment each mediated
effects of team stimuli on two of the three individual outcomes and
collectively mediated between team stimuli and all three individual
outcomes.
Effects of cultural differences. Consistent with the findings
of Study 1, follower nationality and collectivism were related to
follower psychological empowerment, such that U.S. American
followers and followers with higher levels of collectivism experi-
2.00
2.50
3.00
3.50
Low Empowering
Leadership
High Empowering
Leadership
Affective Commitment
Low Relationship Conflict
High Relationship Conflic
t
Figure 4. Empowering Leadership Relationship Conflict interaction
effect on affective commitment (Study 2).
Table 6
Indirect Effects of Empowering Leadership and Relationship Conflict on Outcomes (Study 2)
Variable Indirect effect 95% confidence interval
Psychological empowerment as mediator (tests of Hypothesis 4)
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .16
[.05, .28]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .00 [.04, .04]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 4a) .04 [.16, .05]
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .03 [.05, .11]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .00 [.01, .01]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 4b) .01 [.05, .02]
Empowering leadership 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .11
[.21, .03]
Relationship conflict 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .00 [.05, .05]
Leadership Conflict 3psychological empowerment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 4c) .03 [.03, .11]
Affective commitment as mediator (tests of Hypothesis 5)
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .01 [.09, .07]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .00 [.02, .02]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3innovative behavior (Hypothesis 5a) .01 [.06, .08]
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .08
[.01, .16]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .02 [.04, .00]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3teamwork behavior (Hypothesis 5b) .06
[.15, .01]
Empowering leadership 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .36
[.53, .20]
Relationship conflict 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .08
[.01, .16]
Leadership Conflict 3affective commitment 3turnover intentions (Hypothesis 5c) .29
[.06, .54]
p.05.
553
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
enced greater psychological empowerment (see Table 5, Model 1).
Follower collectivism was also related positively to affective com-
mitment (see Table 5, Model 3) and negatively to turnover inten-
tions (see Table 5, Model 9). No other effects were detected with
follower nationality or collectivism. Interestingly, leader national-
ity was not related to any of the outcomes in the model. Finally, as
in Study 1, additional analyses indicated that follower nationality
and follower collectivism did not significantly moderate the
unique and interaction effects of empowering leadership and rela-
tionship conflict on psychological empowerment or affective com-
mitment (p.10).
In summary, as in Study 1, individual-level and societal-level
cultural differences related differently to psychological empower-
ment—that is, collectivism related positively to psychological
empowerment, whereas psychological empowerment was higher
among the less collectivistic U.S. team members relative to the
more collectivistic PRC team members. Also as in Study 1, results
in Study 2 indicated that cultural differences do not seem to affect
the validity of our theoretical model of relationships.
General Discussion
In this article, we have sought to answer three specific research
questions pertaining to individuals’ motivation. First, we sought to
uncover individual-level mechanisms through which team stimuli
affect team members’ motivation to contribute to their team;
second, we considered what dynamics in work teams motivate
versus demotivate members to contribute to their teams; and third,
we asked whether such team dynamics generalize across different
aspects of cultures (nationality and individual collectivism). The
findings of our cross-cultural laboratory and field studies provide
evidence for the motivating effects of empowering leadership and
the demotivating effects of relationship conflict, as well as for the
roles of team members’ motivational states (psychological em-
powerment and affective commitment) in linking empowering
leadership and relationship conflict to important individual-level
outcomes in teams. Additionally, by collecting data in both the
United States And the PRC, we have been able to make some
preliminary statements regarding the role of cultural differences—
especially those associated with collectivism—in members’ moti-
vational reactions in teams.
Theoretical Implications
The present findings contribute to existing theory in four ways.
First, our research extends prior theoretical models of employee
motivation in teams by explicating the processes through which
ambient, team-level stimuli exert both motivating and demotivat-
ing influences on team members’ motivation. Although some prior
research has considered motivational processes in teams (Chen &
Gogus, 2008; Chen & Kanfer, 2006), most of this work has
focused on either motivating or demotivating team influences on
team members. Extending prior work, a key contribution of our
research involves finding (a) that empowering leadership (a moti-
vating team stimulus) and relationship conflict (a demotivating
team stimulus) uniquely and oppositely influence team members’
motivation and (b) that the positive influence of empowering
leadership on team members’ motivation is greater when relation-
ship conflict is low. In particular, relationship conflict negatively
moderated the positive influence of empowering leadership on
psychological empowerment in our Study 1 and on affective
commitment in both Studies 1 and 2. We thus conclude from our
findings that an optimal mix between motivating and demotivating
team stimuli can exist, such that high levels of empowering lead-
ership are more likely to promote individual team members’ mo-
tivational states when relationship conflict is low, rather than high.
These moderation effects support prior theorizing by Kanfer and
her colleagues (Chen & Kanfer, 2006; Kanfer & Heggestad, 1997),
which suggest that a motivational fit between different team stim-
uli is required to produce the most motivating context for team
members.
Second, further extending Chen and Kanfer’s (2006) theory and
related empirical research (e.g., Chen, Kirkman, et al., 2007;
Seibert et al., 2004), our study also linked team-level stimuli to
both positive (innovative and teamwork behaviors) and negative
(turnover intentions) individual-level outcomes by specifying two
motivational states (psychological empowerment and affective
commitment) as mediators. Interestingly, although Study 1 sup-
ported all hypothesized relationships in our model, the data in
Study 2 provided more mixed support for the model. In particular,
although empowering leadership significantly related to psycho-
logical empowerment and affective commitment in both studies,
relationship conflict related significantly to affective commitment
in both studies but related also to psychological empowerment
only in Study 1. Also, although psychological empowerment and
affective commitment mediated influences of team stimuli on
turnover intentions in both studies, in Study 2 psychological em-
powerment linked team stimuli to innovative behavior but not to
teamwork behavior, whereas affective commitment linked team
stimuli to teamwork behavior but not to innovative behavior.
Thus, our findings suggest that it is possible that empowering
leadership and relationship conflict relate to individual outcomes
through somewhat different motivational mechanisms, at least in
some settings. That is, while empowering leadership may relate to
individual outcomes through both psychological empowerment
and affective commitment, it is possible that relationship conflict
is more likely to relate to outcomes through affective commitment
than through psychological empowerment. These latter effects are
consistent with scholars’ findings that relationship conflict is likely
to exert stronger, more direct effects on more affective-based
outcomes, such as liking of other group members and affective
commitment (cf. Jehn, 1995, 1997; Jehn & Mannix, 2001). Still,
our findings broaden the understanding of how, why, and when
motivating and demotivating team stimuli lead members to con-
tribute to their teams.
Third, by considering both motivating and demotivating team
stimuli, as well as positive and negative individual-level contribu-
tions to their teams, our study also helps to integrate theories of
team motivation, conflict, and stress. As we noted at the outset of
the article, to date, the team motivation literature has emphasized
motivating influences and positive behaviors and outcomes (Chen
& Gogus, 2008; Chen & Kanfer, 2006), whereas the conflict and
stress literatures have emphasized demotivating influences and
negative behaviors and outcomes (e.g., Jehn, 1995, 1997; Jehn &
Mannix, 2001; LePine et al., 2005; Podsakoff et al., 2007). Our
theorizing and empirical findings clearly show that integrating
these perspectives allows for greater understanding of motivational
reactions and behaviors in teams. Indeed, in line with our assertion
554 CHEN, SHARMA, EDINGER, SHAPIRO, AND FARH
that team members can potentially be exposed to both motivating
and demotivating stimuli, we in fact found that considering both
types of team stimuli can explain more variance in team members’
motivation and behavior than considering only one type of stimuli.
Finally, answering repeated calls for more cross-cultural re-
search on motivation (Gelfand et al., 2007; Tsui et al., 2007), our
exploratory analyses did not detect significant moderating effect
for nationality or collectivism on any relationships in the model.
Although this could be conceived as testing a null hypothesis (i.e.,
that results do not differ across cultural differences) and hence
should be interpreted with caution, these results offer little reason
to expect that models of team motivation would not generalize to
non-Western societies. In addition, across both studies, higher
levels of collectivism were related to higher levels of psycholog-
ical empowerment and, to a lesser extent (i.e., in Study 2 but not
in Study 1), affective commitment. These findings suggest that
more collectivistic members tend to be more motivated regardless
of the team-level stimuli they may be experiencing. Additionally
and perhaps paradoxically, we also found across the two studies
that individuals from a less collectivistic society (the United
States) were also more likely to feel psychologically empowered
than individuals from a more collectivistic society (the PRC; cf.
Hofstede, 1980). These findings are consistent with Kirkman,
Chen, Farh, Chen, and Lowe (2009), who also found that cultural
influences at the individual level and society level may not be
identical. Clearly, more research is needed to extend the under-
standing of how cultural differences might affect motivational
processes in teams and the level of analysis at which cultural
differences might affect such processes.
Practical Implications
Our research also offers two important implications for manag-
ers and organizations. First, our findings indicate that team leaders
who engage in empowering leadership behaviors are likely to exert
motivating influences on their team’s members but that such
positive influences are more likely to occur when relationship
conflict in teams is kept to lower levels. Managers who encounter
moderate to high levels of relationship conflict in their work teams
should thus seek to mitigate its effects on employees by develop-
ing a cohesive and supportive team environment among team
members (Jehn & Mannix, 2001). On the basis of these findings,
managers need to have a solid understanding of the interpersonal
dynamics in their teams to ensure that their efforts to motivate their
team members are not nullified by dysfunctional team dynamics,
such as high levels of relationship conflict among members.
Second, although tentative, our findings involving cultural in-
fluences on motivation suggest further that interventions that mo-
tivate individuals in teams—at least those directed at enhancing
employee empowerment and commitment—can in fact generalize
across culturally distinct societies. However, given prior findings
(e.g., Kirkman et al., 2009; Kirkman & Shapiro, 2001), as well as
our own findings pertaining to collectivism suggesting that
individual-level differences in cultural values can also impact team
members’ motivation, managers also need to realize that some
employees may embrace (or, rather, resist) their motivational in-
terventions and motivating behaviors more so than others.
Limitations and Future Research Directions
As with any research study, ours is not without limitations. First,
the findings in our field study (Study 2) were not as strong as those
of our experimental study (Study 1). One explanation for these
differences in findings may be that the field study, relative to the
lab study, may have lacked sufficient statistical power to detect our
hypothesized effects. Another possible reason is that we measured
behavioral intentions in the lab study but ratings of actual behav-
iors in the field sample. Hence, it could be that the direct and
mediated influences of team stimuli were stronger when consid-
ering behavioral intentions, which are more proximal to team
stimuli and motivational states than actual behaviors (cf. Chen &
Kanfer, 2006). Yet other possibilities for the inconsistency in
findings might be the diversity in team types represented in the
field sample (i.e., our hypothesized effects might be stronger in
some types of teams than others), as well as the low ICC(2) values
we obtained for measures of team stimuli in Study 2, which could
have attenuated our findings (cf. Bliese, 2000). Thus, although we
attempted to maximize internal validity in Study 1 and external
validity in Study 2, clearly, replications that take these measure-
ment and sampling differences into account are needed.
Additionally, we collected data in only two countries: the United
States and the PRC. While these two countries are dissimilar on
many cultural variables, they do not represent the entire range of
cultures available to study. Research conducted in a greater array
of cultural contexts would permit more conclusive statements to be
made regarding the role of culture in the interplay among team
stimuli, work motivation, and employee behaviors.
Finally, while our choice of predictor, mediating, and outcome
variables was theoretically grounded, additional research could
expand the group of tested variables. For example, use of different
sets of challenge and hindrance stressors (such as abusive super-
vision or role overload; cf. LePine et al., 2005), as well as con-
sideration of different motivating team stimuli (e.g., transforma-
tional leadership, team cohesion, team empowerment), would
allow for greater integration between models of team motivation
and employee stress. Additionally, motivational states other than
psychological empowerment and affective commitment (such as
perceptions of justice or intrinsic motivation), as well as inclusion
of affective states (e.g., negative and positive emotional states),
should be considered in subsequent models.
Conclusion
In conclusion, the present research takes a significant step
toward greater understanding of the dynamics in work teams that
motivate versus demotivate individual members to contribute to
their teams. In doing so, we have offered contributions to the team
motivation, conflict, and stress literatures by considering the si-
multaneous positive and negative influences of teams on their
members’ motivation and behavior. We have also offered a pre-
liminary look at how cultural differences may influence these
motivational states and outcomes. Hopefully, the common findings
across our studies, as well as their differences, will prompt more
scholars to examine the combined effects of motivating and de-
motivating effects of team stimuli, as well as mediating mecha-
nisms that can explain how team members respond to positive and
negative team-related stimuli—a mixture of events that is inevita-
ble yet understudied.
555
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
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Received January 8, 2010
Revision received September 29, 2010
Accepted October 14, 2010
557
MOTIVATING FORCES IN TEAMS
... transformational leadership (Andersen, 2010;Bass, 1985Bass, , 1997Chen, Sharma, Edinger, Shapiro, & Farh, 2011;Clarke, 2011;De Hoogh, Greer, & Den Hartog, 2015;Goodall, 2016;Hansen & Villadsen, 2010;Hayati, Charkhabi, & Naami, 2014;Malik, Javed, & Hassan, 2017;Martin, Liao, & Campbell, 2013). Unlocking the different managerial competencies exercised over the working staff in public-private collaborations is thought to elevate the performance of partnerships and widens the selection of governance practices (Getha-Taylor, 2008). ...
... This allows them to drive favourable performance outcomes from the working staff (Adobor, 2004;Hayati et al., 2014;Malik et al., 2017). Others reached the same end by using leadership by empowerment that encompasses a manager's ability to build the capabilities of employees, through sharing, passing and delegating broader powers to subordinates (Chen et al., 2011;Martin et al., 2013;X. Zhang & Bartol, 2010). ...
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