Does leadership lessen turnover? The moderated mediation effect of leader–member exchange and perspective taking on public servants

Published date01 November 2018
Date01 November 2018
Does leadership lessen turnover? The moderated mediation
effect of leadermember exchange and perspective taking on
public servants
Saeed Siyal |Xiaobao Peng
School of Public Affairs, University of Science
and Technology of China, Hefei, P.R. China
Saeed Siyal, School of Public Affairs,
University of Science and Technology of
China, 96Jinzhai road Hefei Anhui, P.R. China.
Drawing on motivated information processing theory and social exchange theory, this
research investigates the mediating effects of leadermember exchange and moderat-
ing impact of perspective taking in the relationship among transformational leadership
and turnover intentions of public servants. Using a sample of 385 respondents
from different public sectors across Pakistan, we found a negative association of
transformational leadership with the turnover intentions, which is further mediated
by leadermember exchange. Moreover, perspective taking moderated this mediating
relationship. The present research has theoretical and practical implications. In
addition, we have discussed some future directions.
Turnover is a critical issue in public sector organizations at the
moment, which is a task of strategic human resource management to
maintain a productive workforce in public organizations. Turnover at
a desirable level creates incentives and provides assistance to maintain
creativity in the public sectors (Hicklin & Meier, 2008; Jung, 2012).
However, strong evidence declares that turnover in excess is detri-
mental to the performance of the organizations due to the reason that
it can interrupt service delivery and generate additional costs for
replacing the leavers (Andrews, Boyne, & Walker, 2011; Hicklin &
Meier, 2008). As the costs related to turnover have increased, many
efforts have been made to determine the underlying causes behind
this. Turnover intentions in public servants are high and solely differ-
ent from those of the business organizations due to many reasons
such as, first, in public sectors such as police, the risk is high, but the
salary and other benefits are very low as compared with the business
organizations, which tends the public servants to quit. Additionally,
the police officers of several Organization for Economic Cooperation
and Development member countries like Australia and UK, as well as
New Zealand, experience high stress because of the big workloads,
mainly due to major shift in the governance focusing on the output
and accountability (Brunetto, Teo, Shacklock, & FarrWharton, 2012;
Dick, 2011; Hoque, Arends, & Alexander, 2004). Second, the career
growth opportunities are less in public sector organizations as com-
pared with the business organizations, which develop the quitting
intentions in public servants. Earlier research in the areas of applied
psychology and organizational behavior discuss and argue that there
exists a social exchange link among the employees (public servants)
and organizations based on the reciprocal benefits for both the
employees and organizations (e.g., Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, &
Taylor, 2000; Rupp & Cropanzano, 2002; Wayne, Shore, & Liden,
1997). Third, the importance of trust in leadership has long been
acknowledged by scholars for more than four of the decades, by
means of some leading explanation found in books (e.g., Argyris,
1962; Likert, 1967) as well as some empirical research papers (e.g.,
Dheurle, Mellinger, & Haggard, 1959; Read, 1962). Over this
timeframe, the trust that the individuals have in their leaders and boss
has been a key concept in all the disciplines. For example, it is one of
the key concepts in many theories of leadership: such as the transfor-
mational along with charismatic leaders develop trust in subordinates
and followers (Kirkpatrick & Locke, 1996; Podsakoff, MacKenzie,
Moorman, & Fetter, 1990). According to Avolio, Walumbwa, and
Weber (2009); Goodwin, Wofford, and Whittington (2001); Lim and
Ployhart (2004), there is a great need of research on the public sectors
in this context due to the reason that the impact of leadership
depends on context factors.
Prior research on turnover intention mainly focused on the factors
that cause the turnover intentions. According to Rao and Argote
(2006), public sector organizations endeavor to lessen their turnover
to preserve their key knowledge, decrease the expenditure of staffing
and socialization (Darmon, 1990), boost performance at workplace
Received: 9 April 2018 Accepted: 28 April 2018
DOI: 10.1002/pa.1830
J Public Affairs. 2018;18:e1830.
© 2018 John Wiley & Sons, 1of12

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