Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 657–675 | Cite as

Toward an Understanding of When and Why Servant Leadership Accounts for Employee Extra-Role Behaviors

  • Alexandra PanaccioEmail author
  • David J. Henderson
  • Robert C. Liden
  • Sandy J. Wayne
  • Xiaoyun Cao
Original Paper



This research aims to contribute to servant leadership theory by applying social exchange theory to examine why and under what conditions servant leadership is related to employee extra-role behaviors. Specifically, we examined the psychological contract (PC) as a mediating mechanism between servant leader behaviors and two forms of employee extra-role behaviors: organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs) and innovative behaviors. Furthermore, we examined employee extraversion, collectivism, and proactive personality as boundary conditions.


We used time-lagged data collected from 101 supervisor–subordinate dyads.


We found that PC fulfillment mediated the relationships of servant leadership with innovative behaviors, and with individual initiative and loyal boosterism forms of OCB. In addition, extraversion and collectivism moderated the relationship between servant leadership and PC fulfillment, such that it was stronger among individuals low on these characteristics.


This study suggests that PC fulfillment is a key process through which servant leadership influences follower engagement in extra-role behaviors, and sheds light as to when leadership matters most in terms of motivating employee outcomes through behaviors associated with greater PC fulfillment.


This is an important contribution, as servant leadership research has been largely void of clarifying the psychological mechanisms and boundary conditions through which servant leader behaviors influence follower well-being and associated outcomes.


Leadership Servant leadership Psychological contract Organizational citizenship behaviors Innovative behaviors Employee dispositions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexandra Panaccio
    • 1
    Email author
  • David J. Henderson
    • 2
  • Robert C. Liden
    • 3
  • Sandy J. Wayne
    • 3
  • Xiaoyun Cao
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Management, John Molson School of BusinessConcordia UniversityMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Cass Business SchoolLondonUK
  3. 3.University of Illinois at ChicagoChicagoUSA

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