Linking Transformational Leadership to Work Engagement and the Mediator Effect of Job Autonomy: A Study in a Turkish Private Non-Profit University
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The concept of transformational leadership was introduced by the political scientist J. MacGregor Burns (1978). Within this conceptual framework, a transformational leader motivates his/her followers by promoting their high ideals and goals, and makes them achieve more than expected through inspiration. A transformational leader delegates tasks and allows followers to improve themselves in task-related decision-making through gaining personal experience. In this sense, job autonomy refers to employees' freedom and independence in decision-making. It is indispensable for an inspiring, supportive and motivating leader to increase work engagement of his/her subordinates (Avery, McKay and Wilson, 2007). Work engagement is a "positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind" that is characterized by dedication, absorption and vigor (Macey et al., 2009). This concept involves some intrinsic motivations such as job satisfaction, pride, inspiration, working with high energy and focusing on work (Turgut, 2011). In their studies, Zhu, Avolio and Walumbwa (2009) identified the positive effect of transformational leadership considering the personal traits of subordinates such as initiatives, analytical thinking and moral values - on work engagement. The studies by Tims, Bakker and Xanthopoulou (2011) also demonstrated that a transformational leader increases the work engagement of subordinates. This study examines the effect of transformational leadership on work engagement of academicians through job autonomy. Structural equation modeling as a quantitative research method was used and the data was collected using questionnaires. For data collection, Bass and Avolio's (1990) 'Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire', which examines transformational leader through the dimensions of idealized influence (charisma), intellectual stimulation, inspirational motivation and individualized consideration, was used. Work engagement was measured using Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES) developed by Schaufeli and Bakker (2003) which has three dimensions of vigor, dedication and absorption. The scale by Ilardi et al. (1993) was used to measure job autonomy. The data obtained by this study, which includes the academicians working in a private non-profit university, was analyzed using L SREL. Results showed that job autonomy fully mediated the effect of transformational leadership on work engagement. (C) 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.