When does self-sacrificial leadership motivate prosocial behavior? It depends on followers' prevention focus

David De Cremer, David M Mayer, Marius van Dijke, Mary Bardes, Barbara C Schouten
Journal of Applied Psychology 2009, 94 (4): 887-99
In the present set of studies, the authors examine the idea that self-sacrificial leadership motivates follower prosocial behavior, particularly among followers with a prevention focus. Drawing on the self-sacrificial leadership literature and regulatory focus theory, the authors provide results from 4 studies (1 laboratory and 3 field studies) that support the research hypothesis. Specifically, the relationship between self-sacrificial leadership and prosocial behavior (i.e., cooperation, organizational citizenship behavior) is stronger among followers who are high in prevention focus. Implications for the importance of taking a follower-centered approach to leadership are discussed.

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