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Exploring the Leadership–Engagement Nexus: A Moderated Meta-Analysis and Review of Explaining Mechanisms


  • Anouk Decuypere

    (Research Group HRM and Organisation Behavior, Department of Marketing, Innovation and Organisation, Ghent University, 9000 Ghent, Belgium)

  • Wilmar Schaufeli

    (Department of Social and Organizational Psychology, Utrecht University, 3584 CS Utrecht, The Netherlands
    Research Group Work, Organizational and Personnel Psychology, FPPW, KU Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium)


This study aims to review and quantify the value of several well-established positive leadership styles for employee work engagement in organizations. We perform both a quantitative and qualitative review (k = 86). Our (moderated) meta-analysis indicates that transformational, authentic, empowering, ethical, and servant leadership all share overlap in confidence and credibility intervals, and they may result in the same effect on work engagement (general r = 0.47). Additional theoretical analysis indicated a common ground within these positive leadership styles, i.e., having a moral perspective as a leader, role-modelling behaviour, follower self-determination, and positive social exchanges with employees. Based on the studies in the sample, we also build an integrative research model with several categories of mediators and moderators that have a well-established impact on work engagement. The moderator categories were follower characteristics and team- and organizational-level moderators. The mediator categories were psychological needs, trust, resources, and organizational-level variables. The combination of a meta-analysis with systematic review and research model can facilitate future research and supports practitioners to improve leadership.

Suggested Citation

  • Anouk Decuypere & Wilmar Schaufeli, 2021. "Exploring the Leadership–Engagement Nexus: A Moderated Meta-Analysis and Review of Explaining Mechanisms," IJERPH, MDPI, vol. 18(16), pages 1-34, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jijerp:v:18:y:2021:i:16:p:8592-:d:614411

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    References listed on IDEAS

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