Serving to help and helping to serve: Employee reactions to HR manager servant leadership

Olli Pekka Kauppila, Mats Ehrnrooth, Kristiina Mäkelä, Adam Smale, Jennie Sumelius, Hertta Vuorenmaa

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Research on human resource management (HRM) has long aspired to understand how HR managers could facilitate positive employee outcomes in their organizations. Existing studies typically suggest that the HR function could exert more influence by gaining a higher status and more formal authority in the organization. This study provides a new perspective to HRM research by examining how HR managers can bring about positive employee outcomes through servant leadership. Drawing on servant leadership and social learning theories, we develop a model that explores how HR manager servant leadership gives an impetus to a cross-level process that improves employee job attitudes. Using nested data from 667 grocery store managers, 121 line managers, and 23 HR managers, we find that HR manager servant leadership positively influences organizational members' overall justice perception through line manager servant leadership. Perceived overall justice, in turn, enhances employees' organizational commitment and job satisfaction. Results also indicate that high leadership self-efficacy augments a line manager's effectiveness to emulate servant leadership behaviors from HR managers and use these behaviors to advance positive justice perceptions among his or her followers.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018
EventAcademy of Management Annual Meeting: Improving Lives - Chicago, United States
Duration: 10 Aug 201814 Aug 2018
Conference number: 78


ConferenceAcademy of Management Annual Meeting
Abbreviated titleAOM
Country/TerritoryUnited States


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