How is Benevolent Leadership Linked to Employee Creativity? The Mediating Role of Leader–Member Exchange and the Moderating Role of Power Distance Orientation

Research paper by Weipeng Lin, Jingjing Ma, Qi Zhang, Jenny Chen Li, Feng Jiang

Indexed on: 31 Aug '16Published on: 31 Aug '16Published in: Journal of Business Ethics


Previous research has shown that virtuous leader behavior in the form of benevolent leadership has considerable impact on employee creativity. However, little is known as to how and under what conditions these constructs are linked. In the current research, we proposed and tested a moderated mediation model positing leader–member exchange (LMX) as a mediator, and employee power-distance orientation as a moderator of this relationship. Two studies were conducted to test our hypothesized model. In Study 1, repeated measured data collected from 284 Chinese employees in an information technology company demonstrated that benevolent leadership had a lagged effect on LMX. In Study 2, analyses of multisource and lagged data from 391 Chinese employees in 42 research and development teams, and their direct supervisors indicated that benevolent leadership was positively related to supervisor-rated employee creativity via LMX. In addition, the relationship between benevolent leadership and LMX was stronger for employees high in power-distance orientation. Theoretical implications of benevolent leadership’s research and practical contributions concerning promoting creativity in organizations where benevolent leaders prevail are also discussed.