The relationship between empowering leadership and volunteers' service capability: intention to share knowledge as mediator

Publication Date17 April 2020
Date17 April 2020
AuthorEvangelia Siachou,Panagiotis Gkorezis,Faith Adeosun
SubjectHR & organizational behaviour,Global HRM
The relationship between
empowering leadership and
volunteersservice capability:
intention to share knowledge
as mediator
Evangelia Siachou
Department of Business, Hellenic American UniversityAthens Campus, Nashua,
New Hampshire, USA
Panagiotis Gkorezis
Department of Economics, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki,
Greece, and
Faith Adeosun
Department of Business, Hellenic American UniversityAthens Campus, Nashua,
New Hampshire, USA
Purpose The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship between empowering leadership
and volunteersservice capability in the context of nongovernmental organizations. In doing so, the mediating
role of intention to share knowledge was highlighted.
Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from volunteers from two non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) operating in Greece through a web-survey tool. To test our hypotheses, we used
bootstrapping analysis.
Findings Our study provides support for the positive effect of empowering leadership (EL) on volunteers
service capability. In addition, we highlighted volunteersintention to share their knowledge as an underlying
mechanism that explains the above relationship.
Originality/value The present study highlights the important role of EL in increasing service capability in
the context of NGOs. Even more, the mediating role of intention to share knowledge provided new knowledge
into why EL affects employeesextra-role behavior and more specifically, service capability.
Keywords NGOs, Mediation, Empowering leadership, Intention to share knowledge, Service capability
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Despite their contribution to the development of the countries (Banks et al., 2015;Hassan et al.,
2017), NGOs, often, lack both staff members and volunteersresources (Never, 2011). Such
deficiencies do not allow them to provide their human resources with effective training and
development, so that they can effectively serve the community. Even if, the evaluation of
service quality is primarily subjective and lies largely with the customers(Tsaur and Lin, 2004,
p. 471), the ability of service provider to meet the expectations of the end-users is also of major
importance. Although, for-profit organizations pay attention to the improvement of service
quality to reach service excellence (Tsaur and Lin, 2004), nonprofit organizations must, first,
ensure essential resources.
Being responsive in customer needs, however, is not only a matter of for-profit
organizations. The necessity for high quality service to the community has been also
discussed in the nonprofit management literature (e.g. Doherty and Hoye, 2011;Neague, 2013;
Leadership and
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 9 July 2019
Revised 24 December 2019
17 February 2020
Accepted 27 February 2020
Evidence-based HRM: a Global
Forum for Empirical Scholarship
Vol. 8 No. 2, 2020
pp. 215-235
© Emerald Publishing Limited
Oostlander et al., 2014). To manage the scarcity of the resources and achieve high-quality
service, NGOs implement processes, which are marked by learning and knowledgeNeague
(2013, p. 568). Therefore, the intention of those who volunteer to share their knowledge and
experiences might contribute positively to the service they offer to the community (Matusik
and Hill, 1998;Rowley, 2006).
Along with the scarcity of the resources, most NGOs usually cope with challenges at the
institutional level including poor governance and leadership (Noor et al., 2016). Recently,
various leadership styles have attracted significant attention to the nonprofit management
literature such as transformational leadership (e.g. Aga et al., 2016;Hassan et al., 2017;Do
Nascimento et al., 2018;Jaskyte, 2004;Seyhan, 2013;Mayr, 2017;Rowold and Rohmann, 2009);
autonomy-supportive leadership (e.g. Oostlander et al., 2014), charismatic leadership (e.g. De
Hoogh et al., 2005;Siddiqi, 2001) and servant leadership (e.g. Singh, 2014). These leadership
styles facilitate NGOs to ensure the resources needed to act appropriately as well as to be
supportive to volunteersattempts to serve the community (Seyhan, 2013).
However, extantresearch in nonprofit leadershiphas not, yet, provided a cleartheorization
on how a certain leadershipstyle might affect volunteersextra-rolebehavior. Using the theory
of reasonedaction (TRA) (Ajzen andFishbein, 1980;Bock et al.,2005;Fish bein and Ajzen, 1975;
Reychav and Weisberg, 2009) we claim that those who are involved in volunteering services
intend to shareknowledge when they are driven by theirpersonal beliefs as well as when they
perceivethat their actual behavior will havea collective benefit. EL mightenhance the positive
role-relatedemotions of volunteers thus affectingtheir anticipated extra-role behavior toward
the community service. As EL has found to affect subordinatesattitudes at work (e.g.
Srivastava et al.,2006), they might also affect the perceptions of employees that their
engagement in knowledge sharing activities yields beneficialoutcomes to the community. We
incorporate, therefore, volunteersintention to share their knowledge as an underlying
mechanism accounting for this relationship (i.e. EL and service capability).
The present study contributes to the literature in several ways. Initially, we add to the
relatively limited empirical studies addressing that some leadership styles (such as,
transformational and autonomy-supportive leadership) motivate volunteers (Aga et al., 2016;
Do Nascimento et al., 2018;Oostlander et al., 2014;Jaskyte, 2004;Seyhan, 2013;Mayr, 2017;
Rowold and Rohmann, 2009) or enhance their positive attitudes towards volunteerism (De
Hoogh et al., 2005;Siddiqi, 2001). In doing so, we support that EL helps volunteers to perform
extra-role behavior.
We also add to the empirical research on the relationship between EL and extra-role
behavior (Raub and Robert, 2010) by investigating the variable of service capability that has
been not treated as an outcome of EL actions within NGOs. Moreover, examining intention to
share knowledge as a mediator accounting for the aforementioned relationship (i.e. EL and
service capability) we provide some novel insights into the mechanisms of the above
relationship. We highlight that even in voluntarily settings, knowledge sharing is a matter of
personal intention. It neither be imposed by leadership actions or behaviors, nor it can happen
unintentionally (see Figure 1).
2. Literature review and hypotheses
2.1 Empowering leadership (EL) and service capability
Empowering leadership is defined as a set of leadersbehaviors aiming to share power with
subordinates (Vecchio et al., 2010, p. 531). It is likely to increase job meaningfulness by
delegatingauthority, forming independence among employees, involving them in the decision-
making process as well as in organizational ambidextrous outcomes (Siachou and Gkorezis,
2018). Allied to the self-determination theory (e.g. Gagn
e and Deci, 2005;Sheldon et al., 2004),
work behaviors such as extra-role behavior, are likely to result from EL actions (Raub and

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