Title

Perception is Reality: Change Leadership and Work Engagement

Document Type

Article

Language

eng

Publication Date

2017

Publisher

Emerald

Source Publication

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

Source ISSN

0143-7739

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate how employee perceptions of change and leadership might impact work engagement following major organizational change.

Design/methodology/approach

Social media invited US workers recently experiencing major organizational change to anonymously complete a web-based survey requesting qualitative and quantitative responses. Values-based coding and thematic analysis were used to explore qualitative data. Hierarchical and linear regression, and bootstrapped mediation were used to analyze quantitative data.

Findings

Analysis of qualitative data identified employees’ perceptions of ideal change and ideal leadership were well supported in the change leadership literature. Analysis of quantitative data indicated that employee perceptions of leadership fully mediated the relationship between employee perceptions of change and work engagement.

Practical implications

Study findings imply that how employees perceive change is explained by how they perceive leadership during change, and that these perceptions impact work engagement. Although these findings appear commonsensical, the less than stellar statistics on major organizational change may encourage leaders to become more follower-focused throughout the change process.

Originality/value

The study makes a contribution to an understudied area of organizational research, specifically applied information processing theory. This is the first study that identifies employee perceptions of leadership as a mediator for perceptions of change and work engagement. From a value perspective, leaders as successful change agents recognize significant cost savings in dollars and human welfare by maintaining healthy workplaces with highly engaged workers.

Comments

Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 38, No. 7 (2017): 927-945. DOI.

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