Relationships among Non-Academic Employee Perceptions of Manager Leadership Behaviors, Meaningful Work, and Selected Performance Drivers
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U.S. public institutions of higher education are unique work environments that employ millions of faculty, staff, and administrators. Reported research on human resource issues for non-academic employees within higher education, however, is scarce. Given that staff who work in higher education are increasingly being asked to perform at higher levels with equal or fewer resources, research is needed as to how these outcomes can be achieved. The purpose of this study was to determine to what extent non-academic middle manager participative and supportive leadership behaviors are related to employee perceptions of meaningful work (conceptualized as growth satisfaction, empowerment, person-job fit, and affiliation commitment) and to employee learning goal orientation, organizational citizenship behavior, and intention to turnover. A population of 4,235 employees within a large public institution of higher education in the southwestern part of the United States was asked to participate in an online survey. The survey was comprised of items from eight validated instruments with 45 items and additional demographic information. Respondents totaled 1,333 (31.5%). Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for reliability, exploratory factor analysis, and structural equation modeling techniques. Results of the study led to revisions of the initially proposed constructs via exploratory factor analysis, giving rise to seven constructs: Cooperative Leader Behavior, Work Fulfillment and Identity, Work Influence and Affiliation, Learning Goal Orientation, Personal Industry, Interpersonal Helping, and Intention to Turnover. Evaluation of the structural model for the revised constructs, with one added path, resulted in good fit (chi^2=3246.397 =4.078, p=.000; CFI=.941; TLI=.936; RMSEA .048; SRMR=.051). Cooperative Leader Behavior was significantly and positively related to employee perceptions of Work Fulfillment and Identity (beta=.517, p<.05) and Work Influence and Affiliation (beta=.643, p<.05). Cooperative Leader Behavior, Work Fulfillment and Identity, and Work Influence and Affiliation were significantly and negatively related to Intention to Turnover (beta=-.436, p<.05; beta=-.480, p<.05; beta=-.293, p<.05, respectively). Work Fulfillment and Identity was significantly and positively related to Learning Goal Orientation (beta=.261, p<.05) and Personal Industry (beta=.309, p<.05). Work Influence and Affiliation was significantly and positively related to Interpersonal Helping (beta=.274, p<.05). Finally, Work Fulfillment and Identity and Work Influence and Affiliation had a significant bi-directional relationship (beta=.848, p<.05). Conclusions drawn from the results of this study led to, 1) recommendations and implications for the training and development of middle managers, 2) recommendations and implications for theory and research, and 3) recommendations and implications for practice. Higher education institutions that desire to foster employee perceptions of meaningful work and influence performance drivers such as intention to turnover should focus on developing middle-manager cooperative leadership behaviors. Additional research is needed to continue to revise, refine and validate the new constructs identified in this study, as well as to identify additional performance drivers in higher education responsive to cooperative leader behavior.
Hammons, Laura (2013). Relationships among Non-Academic Employee Perceptions of Manager Leadership Behaviors, Meaningful Work, and Selected Performance Drivers. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from