Servant leadership, trust, and the organizational commitment of public sector employees in China

Qing Miao, Alexander Harry Newman, Gary Schwarz, Lin Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

46 Citations (Scopus)


So-called servant leaders strive selflessly and altruistically to assist others before themselves, work to develop their followers greatest potential, and seek to benefit the wider community. This article examines the trust-based mechanisms by which servant leadership influences organizational commitment in the Chinese public sector, using data from a survey of civil servants. Quantitative analysis shows that servant leadership strongly influences affective and normative commitment, while having no impact on continuance commitment. Furthermore, we find that affective trust rather than cognitive trust is the mechanism by which servant leadership induces higher levels of commitment. Our findings suggest that in a time of decreasing confidence levels in public leaders, servant leadership behaviour may be used to re-establish trust and create legitimacy for the Chinese civil service.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)727 - 743
Number of pages17
JournalPublic Administration
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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