Are servant leaders appreciated? An investigation of how relational attributions influence employee feelings of gratitude and prosocial behaviors

Jiaqing Sun, Robert C. Liden, Linyi Ouyang

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Multisource data collected at three time phases were used in investigating when servant leadership elicits gratitude and then promotes prosocial behaviors. We tested a moderated mediation model, contending that relational attributions moderate the relationship between servant leadership and gratitude, and then gratitude sequentially predicts interpersonal citizenship behaviors and upward voice. As hypothesized, when employees do not highly rely on relational attributions for servant leadership, they feel more gratitude and subsequently engage in more interpersonal citizenship behaviors and upward voice than the employees who rely on relational attributions to explain their interactions with the leader. The sequential indirect effect from servant leadership to upward voice via gratitude and then interpersonal citizenship behaviors was significant when relational attributions are low rather than high.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)528-540
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • gratitude
  • organizational citizenship behavior
  • relational attributions
  • servant leadership
  • upward voice

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