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Effects of Supportive Leadership Behaviors on Worker Satisfaction, Engagement and Performance: An Experimental Field Investigation
Last registered on May 07, 2021

Pre-Trial

Trial Information
General Information
Title
Effects of Supportive Leadership Behaviors on Worker Satisfaction, Engagement and Performance: An Experimental Field Investigation
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0007129
Initial registration date
May 02, 2021
Last updated
May 07, 2021 11:17 AM EDT
Location(s)

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Primary Investigator
Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Other Primary Investigator(s)
PI Affiliation
University of Stavanger
Additional Trial Information
Status
On going
Start date
2021-04-04
End date
2021-12-31
Secondary IDs
Abstract
Research demonstrates that leaders vary extensively in their capabilities to scaffold human potential. Still, we have limited understanding of how different leadership behaviors cause workers to be engaged and motivated to work hard and smart. We conduct a field experiment in a large corporation to investigate effects of supportive leadership behaviors on worker satisfaction, engagement and performance. The CEO encourages all employees to participate in group discussions to provide input on a question of strategic importance during work hours. The employees with no personnel responsibility are randomly matched to employees with personnel responsibility (leader) to form groups of three or four members, all from different companies within the corporation to maximize the likelihood of them not knowing each other. Using block randomization, the leaders are randomized into treatment and control. Treated leaders receives a brief leadership-training promoting more supportive leadership behaviors. We investigate treatment impact on worker satisfaction, engagement, and performance in the group task.
External Link(s)
Registration Citation
Citation
Haeckl, Simone and Mari Rege. 2021. "Effects of Supportive Leadership Behaviors on Worker Satisfaction, Engagement and Performance: An Experimental Field Investigation ." AEA RCT Registry. May 07. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.7129-1.1.
Experimental Details
Interventions
Intervention(s)
The intervention is a short online leadership-training promoting supportive leadership behaviors. It first discusses why a leader’s behaviors may have an impact on worker’s engagement and performance. Then it describes concrete leadership behaviors that can support engagement and performance. It also prompts the leaders to reflect on other’s and own leadership behaviors.
Intervention Start Date
2021-05-02
Intervention End Date
2021-05-07
Primary Outcomes
Primary Outcomes (end points)
Individual level:
Employee Engagement (survey measure),
Work Satisfaction (survey measure);


Group level:
Group Engagement (video recording measure),
Group Performance (ppt measure),
Group Creativity (“Unusual Uses Task”)

Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Individual level:

Employee Engagement (survey measure): Employees’ self-reported engagement in the group task, measured using the following self-developed 3-item scale which has been piloted with students:
During the group discussion, I…”
1. saw myself as an important part of the discussion.
2. did my best to come up with good ideas
3. experienced the presentation as interesting

Participants respond on a 5-point likert scale.

Work Satisfaction (survey measure): Employees’ self-reported work-satisfaction engagement in the group task, measured using the Dolbier et al. (2005) item adapted to the group task:
All in all, how satisfied are you with the discussion you had with you colleagues about the Lyse of the future.
Participants respond on a 7-point likert scale.

Group level:
Group Engagement (video recording measure): The number of times the person contributing least has contributed to the discussion. Videos are transcribed by two external reviewers who are trained, who work independently and are blind to treatment assignment.

Group Performance (ppt measure): The output created by each group in the group-work session (Power Point presentation with suggestions) is evaluated in terms of value for the strategic question of the company by the HR department of the company who are blind to treatment assignment.

After receiving the first contributions of the work teams (being blind to treatment), we defined the following measures for group performance together with the HR department of the company:

Relevance to the strategy discussion:

Measured using the following 5 point scale:
5 We will definitely include this idea in the strategy discussion
4 We might include this idea in the strategy discussion
3 We will not include this concrete idea but the general topic in the strategy discussion
2 We will probably not consider this idea or the general topic in the strategy discussion
1 We will definitely not consider this idea or the general topic in the strategy discussion

Each work team’s score is the average score across ideas.

In addition, the HR department will evaluate the ideas based on originality.

Originality is measured using the following 5-point scale:
5 The proposed idea is novel, unique, exciting, brings up a new topic
4 The proposed idea is unusual, exciting, brings up a new aspect
3 The proposed idea is interesting
2 The proposed idea is interesting but has already been discussed in the company (is not new)
1 The proposed idea is common, mundane, boring.

We will use a second measure of group performance using the average across the work teams’ relevance and originality score.


Group Creativity: Creativity is measured using the “Unusual Uses Task” developed by Guilford (1967) using the construct definition from Bradler et al. (2019).
Secondary Outcomes
Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Leadership behaviors during group task (survey measure, perceived by group members),
Leadership behaviors during group task (video recording measure),
Mindset (both of employees and employers)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)
Leadership behaviors:
Leadership behaviors during the group discussion, measured using the following self-developed 5-item scale which has been piloted with students:

To what extent did the leader of the group discussion…:
1. Encourage you to think outside the box?
2. Make you feel safe and secure?
3. Listen to the suggestions you were making?
4. Provide ideas him or herself?
5. Make you feel comfortable to participate in the discussion?
Leadership behaviors measured based on video recordings: two external reviewers who are trained, who work independently and are blind to treatment assignment count the number of times leaders engage in the concrete leadership behaviors suggested in the training.

Mindset: Using the short version of the implicit theory measure developed by Chiu et al. (1997)
Experimental Design
Experimental Design
We conduct a field experiment in a large corporation to investigate effects of supportive leadership behaviors on worker satisfaction, engagement and performance. The CEO encourages all employees to participate in team discussions to provide input on a question of strategic importance. Employees indicate availability in the week of implementation in the baseline survey. The discussions take place on four consecutive workdays. The employees with no personnel responsibility are randomly matched to employees with personnel responsibility (leader) to form groups of three or four members (accounting for availability), all from different companies within the corporation to maximize the likelihood of them not knowing each other. Under the guidance of the leader, each group spends about 30 minutes discussing the question of strategic importance and summarizes their recommendation for the CEO on a power point slide. Using block randomization, the leaders are randomized into treatment and control. Prior to the group discussions all leaders receive a brief guideline on how to guide the discussion using Microsoft Teams. The instructions are identical, but for the treated leaders it also contains a brief leadership-training promoting more supportive leadership behaviors. We investigate treatment impact on work satisfaction, engagement and performance in the group task.

When estimating treatment impacts, we use several model specifications investigating robustness to adding sets of control variables. All models control for blocks. Additional control variables are: leader sex, leader tenure (years working at the company), leader coaching behavior at baseline (Heslin et al., 2006), leader mindset at baseline (Chiu et al., 1997), group size, group member average tenure, group member average creative mindset (Karwowksi, 2014) at baseline.

We investigate differential treatment effects across leader’s sex, leader’s tenure (median split), leader mindset at baseline (measured using the 8-item scale of Chiu et al. (1997), median split), and coaching behavior at baseline (measured using a 6-item instrument developed by Heslin et al. (2006) median split).
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
stratified randomization based on the day of the intervention using the randomize command in STATA by Kennedy and Mann.
Randomization Unit
leader (work teams)
Was the treatment clustered?
Yes
Experiment Characteristics
Sample size: planned number of clusters
Expected nr. of clusters: 140 leaders
Sample size: planned number of observations
In addition to the 140 leaders, we plan to have 380 employees, i.e.,2-3 employees per leader, leading to 380 observations on employee level
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
clusters will be equally split across treatments: 70 in the control and 70 in the treatment condition
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
For individual-level data, we are able to detect an effect of 0.29 standard deviations with alpha=0.05 and a power of 80%, assuming the 140 leaders (cluster), 3 employees per cluster, and an intraclass correlation of 0.05. For group-level data, we are able to detect an effect of 0.48 standard deviations with alpha=0.05 and a power of 80%, assuming 140 independent observations at the group-level. The stratified randomization based on date may further increase power. Moreover, we expect that the inclusion of leader and employee characteristics as controls will enhance statistical power.
IRB
INSTITUTIONAL REVIEW BOARDS (IRBs)
IRB Name
Norsk Senter For Forskningsdata
IRB Approval Date
2021-03-26
IRB Approval Number
495767