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The Mediation Effect of Psychological Safety on the Relation between

Distributed Leadership and Psychological Safety


YENER,Serdar (2015). The Mediation Effect of Psychological Safety on the Relation
between Distributed Leadership and Psychological Safety. Unpublished Doctoral Thesis,
Halic University,Istanbul,2015.
ABSTRACT

The main purpose of this study is to analyze and explain the mediation effect of
psychological safety on the relation between distributed leadership and turnover intention on
the basis of the theories A review of the related literature was used to collect from primary
and secondary sources information on distributed leadership, psychological safety and
turnover intention. In order to be able to do that, with the help of the key words consisted of
distributed leadership, psychological safety and turnover intention. These phenomenons
havent been studied together before and it is the first study in this area. The research was
applied to 326 participants, who have different positions ase principals, vice principals and
teachers within 7 private secondary schools in the city of Konya, Turkey. Non-parametric
analysing methods such as Mann-Whitney tests, Kruskal-Wallis tests and PLS regression tests
were also conducted to prop up the results of the questionnaires. The results suggest that
distributed leadership and psychological safety have significant effects on turnover intention.
And Psycholgical Safety is a meadiator variant on the relation between Distributed
Leadership and Turnover Intention.

1. INTRODUCTION
In the midst of changing and flexible education environment, parties of education have
been struggling to achieve their peak conditions. Parents, principals and a variety of
educational professionals merge their experience and often use comprehensive methods to
increase the positive output of education process (Bennett, et al.,2003, Collinson, 2007).
Education combines parties whom need to coordinate their efforts. Therefore,
governments interests are rising in this area concerning the future human capital of nations.
Bureaucrats have to consider the outcomes of the contemporary researches on education in
order to scheme relevant policies accordingly. Principals and teachers have to feedback with
outcomes of these policies after practicing them in school. At this stage, bureaucrats have to
take precautions while these policies are processing to achieve better educational standards
(Collinson, 2007).
Schools exist in a rapidly changing economic, social, and political environment.
Schools need to reflect on this changing environment and its implications for teaching
practice, curriculum design, and behavior management. Leadership teams in schools have to

provide an opportunity for building strong leadership for learning that can respond to the
rapid pace of change, and address the many very real challenges that present themselves. Also
governments have to provides a wide variety of ideas and activities designed to aid leaders
building leadership teams that can effectively focus on what should be the core activity of
schools: advancing equity and excellence in student learning
A central assumption is that leadership for learning is advanced by clearly defining
leader roles and responsibilities, providing mentorship, training and support to carry out these
roles, and providing opportunities for participation in collaborative teams that provide a
supportive context for building leadership and problem-solving capacities. The activities and
suggestions provided can be used selectively or customized to reflect each schools specific
context and needs (Ever, 2010). But Unfortunately, many schools still need an internal
capacity for learning the capacity to engage in and sustain all members of the school
community with the shared purpose of improving student learning (Higgins et al. 2012) . In
order to realize significant improvements in student learning, leaders

need to consider

schools as learning organizations as organizations capable of supporting the learning of all


members and of continually improving practice. In order to understand organizational
learning, leaders need to consider several building blocks, supportive learning environment,
concrete learning processes and practices and leadership that reinforces learning (Garwin et
al., 2008).
1.1. Distributed Leadership
Distributed Perspective of Leadership in schools has been foreground for 15 years as a
policy in some of the western countries (Evers, 2010). Distributed Leadership is offering
learners an analytical perspective to school administration. Principals have to share their
power and responsibilities with sub-ordinates equivalent to their abilities in different areas of
education and administration. Followed by other staffs in school, they have to be supported
and obeyed as they are in charge, for the sake of education process (Gronn, 2008; Harris,
2008; Spillane, 2006)
Leadership activity is distributed in the interaction of leaders, followers, and their
situation; and is related predominantly to the distribution of practice. Situation is a significant
factor underpinning and resultant of leadership activity. Aspects of the situation facilitate or
limit leadership activity. Leaders work is impacted on by a range of artifacts. These artifacts
range from tools, such as memos, meeting agendas, computer & policies to more abstract
things such as workday schedules. A distributed perspective on leadership seeks to identify
the artifacts that are relevant to leadership practice and differentiate the way that these

characterize and are characterized by leadership activity (Spillane, 2004, 2005; Spillane et al.
2009, 2010)

Figure 1. Spillanes Distributed Leadership Model

James Spillanes
Distributed Leadership Model
LEADER

LEADERSHP PRACTICE

FOLLOWER

SITUATION

Another view about distributed leadership was theoritized by Gronn in 2002


(Fitzsimons, 2011). Gronn (2002) offered two models of distributed leadership. First model
is a numeric or additive view in which distributed leadership is the sum of its parts - the
aggregate of attributed influence in a group of individuals in which any member can exercise
leadership this corresponds to what Spillane calls shared leadership. Second Model
describes distributed leadership as concertive action. Distributed leadership construed as
concertive action suggests a more holistic view in which leadership is demonstrated through
synergies achieved through joint action. Gronn describes three spontaneously emerging types
of concertive distributed leadership - all of which are characterized by what he calls conjoint
agency. These are spontaneous collaboration, intuitive working relations and institutionalized
practice. Together they represent an increasing degree of institutionalization ranging from
unplanned emerging collaborations which may be short term to formalized organizational
structures such as the senior executive team which functions as a leadership team for the
whole organization (Gronn 2002). These distinctions are similar to Spillanes description of
collaborated, collective and co-ordinated distribution. Spillane prefers the term coperformance to Gronns conjoint agency arguing that joint agency suggests the mutual

agreement of goals between individuals whereas co-performance in Spillanes terms allows


for the possibility that those performing a practice might intentionally or unintentionally
pursue different or contrary goals ( Fitzsimmons, 2011).

1.2. Psychological Safety


Psychological Safety is a new phenomenon in organisations. Submitting the
perception of interpersonal psychological mood of a member of an organisation, when sharing
his/her ideas, expressing him/her, offering innovations for the sake of organization.
When a team is psychologically safe, team members expect that their teammates will
treat them with respect and acceptance; they will not be embarrassed or punished by their
peers if they express their views or display weaknesses. Psychological safety has two
beneficial effects (Schulte et al., 2010). First, it allows self-expression and personal
engagement . Individuals who feel psychologically safe are more likely to bring their personal
voice, creativity, feelings, and self-concepts into their work roles (Kahn 1990). Second,
psychological safety promotes learning, which enhances team effectiveness in long period
(Edmondson 1999, 2006 ).
Psychological safety refers to shared beliefs among work unit members that it is safe
for them to engage in interpersonal risk taking (Edmondson, 1999). According to
Edmondson, psychological safety goes beyond perceiving and experiencing high levels of
interpersonal trust; it also describes a work climate characterized by mutual respect, one in
which people are comfortable expressing their differences. Leaders are pivotal for removing
the constraints that often discourage followers from expressing their concerns and other ideas.
Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) suggess that the the principles which
are shown below to enhance the level of psychological safety level in organizations. These 13
factors aim to help organizations think about the current state of their own workplace:

Organizational culture is a mix of norms, values, beliefs, meanings and expectations


that group members hold in common and that they use as behavioural and problemsolving cues.

Psychological and social support refers to the degree of social and emotional
integration and trust, as well as the level of help and assistance provided by coworkers and supervisors. Equally important are workers perception and awareness of
support.
Clear leadership and expectations are present when leadership is effective and
provides support that helps workers know what they need to do, explains how their

work contributes to the organization, and discusses the nature and expected outcomes
of impending changes.

Civility and respect are based on showing esteem, care and consideration for others.

Psychological demands of any given job are documented and assessed to determine
whether any given activity might be a hazard to the workers health and well-being
and then risks are minimized through work redesign, analysis of work systems, risk
assessment, etc.

Growth and development is present in a work environment when a range of internal


and external opportunities for workers to build their repertoire of competencies,
through encouragement, support and job skills development, is provided.

Recognition and reward is present in a work environment where there is appropriate


acknowledgement and appreciation of workers efforts in a fair and timely manner.

Improvement and influence is present in a work environment where workers are


included in discussions about how their work is done and how important decisions are
made.

Workload management is present in a work environment where tasks and


responsibilities can be accomplished successfully within the time available.
*Canadians describe this as being the biggest workplace stressor.

Engagement is present when policies, practices, and procedures are in place to ensure
workers enjoy and feel connected to their work and where they feel motivated to do
their job well. Engagement can be measured on a physical, emotional, and/or
cognitive level (or all 3).

Balance is present in a work environment where there is acceptance of the need for
harmony between the demands of personal life, family and work.

Psychological protection is present when workers feel able to put themselves on the
line, ask questions, seek feedback, report mistakes and problems, or propose a new
idea without fearing negative consequences to themselves, their job or their career.

Protection of physical safety is present when a workers psychological, as well as


physical safety, is protected from hazards and risks related to the physical
environment.

1.3. Turnover Intention


Turnover is the process through which staff leave a business or organization and that
business or organization replaces them. Turnover intention is a measurement of whether a
business' or organization's employees plan to leave their positions or whether that
organization plans to remove employees from positions. Turnover intention, like turnover
itself, can be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary turnover occurs when the employee
makes the decision to leave on his own. Usually, voluntary turnover intention occurs when
the employee perceives another opportunity as better than his current position. This includes
more pay, more recognition or a more convenient location. It can also occur when the
employee has to leave for health or family reasons. If an employee plans to voluntarily retire
from a position, that's voluntary turnover intention, too (Allen et al., 2005)
High turnover intention is the last phase of the job quitting process. High employee
turnover rates are often a major problem in private schools. turnover costs including
recruiting, selecting, and training costs, lost productivity, loss of high performers and high
potential talent can be very costly for organizations, a critical source of competitive
advantage, organizations long-term competitive concern, better retention management based
on improved prediction of turnover considerable benefits for organizations
The Phenomenon of stress among educational institutes in the Western countries has
been supported by many studies. In these researches the factors below cause turnover
intention (Jain, 2013) .

Insufficient funding and resources,

Work overload,

Poor management practice,

Job insecurity,

Insufficient recognition and reward.

The role erosion,

Role overload,

Resource inadequacy, and

Role ambiguity

Private schools are organisations where high commercial concerns are expected while
conducting educational duties. Principals and owners of private schools have to follow

business principles. Consequently, private school owners and principals have to balance both
their business and teaching responsibilities.

In this research, the effect of distributed

leadership to the turnover intention and mediation effect of psychological safety in private
area were examined. These phenomenons havent been studied together before and it is the
first study in this area.

2. Research Focus and Hypotheses


As noted, this research is grounded in three phenomenons identified in the literature.
Distributed Leadership, Psychological Safety and Turnover Intention.
The results of turnover intention studies show that reasons that beyond cause stress
and stress cause turnover intention. Theories of distributed leadership and psychological
safety offer a organization in where members dont experience organization related stress.
Educational Institutes must continue to provide services which are based on strategies created
by employees. These employees are extremely crucial to the organisation since their value to
the Institute is essentially important and can not be replaced (Jain, 2003).
Research problem is The Mediation effect of Psychological Safety on the Relation
between Distributed Leadership and Psychological Safety.
The first hypothesis (H1) proposes that Distributed Leadership behaviours in a school
will be negatively related to turnover intention. Based upon researches, we suggest that the
distributed leadership offers a school environment that reduce work related stress that reduce
turnover intention.
Second hypothesis (H2) proposes that positive Psychological Safety perception in
school will result in low levels of turnover intention.
Third hypothesis (H3) proposes that positive distributed leadershep wil be positively
related to positive psychological safety

3. Methods
3.1. Participants and Procedures
The research was applied to 326 participants, who have different positions which are
principals, vice principals and teachers within 7 private secondary schools in the city of
Konya, Turkey. The population of this research is 577 persons up to statistics of Ministry of
Education in 2014. 350 questionnaires were send but 336 of them were feed backed. 10 were
rejected because of filling errors. 326 questionnaires were used to analyze to get the outcomes
of this research. Therefore, the sample is 210 respondents. Data for the present study came

from 312 employees and their 14 principals and vice principals. located in the cith of Konya /
Turkey. we considered employees to be members of a schools group when they had the
same supervisor. The supervisors 3 of 14 were women, The supervisors were, 7.1 % were 2633 age group, 35,7 % were 34-41 age group 57,1 were 42-49 age group. The employees
were, % 17,2 were in 18-25 age group, 30,4 % were 26-33 age group, 32.2 % were 34-41
age group, 18,1 % were 42-49 age group and 1.5 % were over 50 age group. All participants
had at least a high school education and had been employed by the schools for at least 1 year.

3.2. Measurements
Non-parametric analysing methods such as Mann-Whitney tests, Kruskal-Wallis tests
and PLS regression tests were also conducted to prop up the results of the questionnaires.
Distributed Leadership Scale done by Beyciolu was used as research scale in validity and
reliability analyses. It is a 10 item Likert scale with a 0.89 Cronbach Alpha. The concept of
Distributed Leadership was first used and researched by Prof. Dr. James Spillane from Northwestern University. He was contacted to find out about his opinions about the relationship
among turnover intention and psychological safety.
Psychological safety scale validity and reliability analyses were done by Prof. Amy C.
Edmondson from Harvard University and translated into Turkish. She was the first person to
use this concept in literature. She has been contacted for permission to use her scale about the
research. She confirmed and supported the research. It was a 7 item scale with a 0.75
Cronbach Alpha.
Turnover Intention Scale is a 3 item scale and formed by Belks enyz with a 0. 95
Cronbach Alpha. Requesting respondents to indicate their degrees of agreement with these
statements, we tried to ascertain the respondents perceptions of distributed leadership.
Identifying the highlighted key issues as fundamentals of this practice, distributed
leadership and its relation to turnover intention and mediation effect of psychological safety
in this relation were analysed from a normative perspective, based on the literature findings in
Chapter 1.

4. Findings and Results


In order to find to use parametric or non parametric tests Normality test is conducted.
As shown in table 1 the results confirmed that the datas have normality.
One-Sample Kolmogorov-Smirnov Test
PsiGuvOrt

PayLidOrt

stenayrort

326

326

326

Mean

2,7187

2,4294

3,3896

Std. Deviation

,65555

,86873

1,55775

Absolute

,062

,064

,228

Positive

,048

,064

,169

Negative

-,062

-,050

-,228

Kolmogorov-Smirnov Z

1,116

1,150

4,111

Asymp. Sig. (2-tailed)

,166

,142

,000

N
Normal Parametersa

Most Extreme Differences

a. Test distribution is Normal.

Then Homogenity (ANOVA) test conducted and test results are below.
Table 2. Homogenity Test
ANOVA
Turnover Intention
Sum of Squares

df

Mean Square

Sig.

Between Groups

571,809

35

16,337

21,851

,000

Within Groups

216,826

290

,748

Total

788,636

325

The results show that the distribution doesnt have homogenity. So we couldnt use
parametric analysing methods.
Table 3. Descriptive Statistics
Descriptive Statistics
Mean

Std. Deviation

PsSafeMean

2.7187

.65555

326

DisLeadMean

2.4294

.86873

326

TurnoverIntMean

3.3896

1.55775

326

As seen in table 3, Psychological Safety Perception gets 2,7187 mean score and it means
that , participants responded as Undecided to Psychological Safety Perception Scale.
Distributed leadership gets a mean score of 2,4294 it shows that , participants responded as
Agree to Distributed Leadership Scale Questions so it means that participants think that
principals and vice principals bleadership as Distributed Leadership view. Turnover Intention
gets 3.3896 mean score shows that participants dont have turnover intention.
These results suggest that participating teachers felt leadership in their schools was
distributed. These results showed that participants trust in their colleagues and principals.
Table 4. Correlations
Correlations
PsychologicalSafety Distributed Leader TurnoverIntention
Corre.Coeff.

1.000

.519**

-.389**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.000

326

326

326

Corre. Coeff.

.519**

1.000

-.799**

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.000

326

326

326

Corre. Coeff.

-.389**

-.799**

1.000

Sig. (2-tailed)

.000

.000

326

326

326

Psychological
Safety

Distributed
Spearman's rho

Leadership

Turnover
Intention

**. Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Correlation analyses of the data showed that distributed leadership behavior was
positively related to psychological safety preception (r=.519) and negatively correlated to
turnover intention

(r=-.799). Psyhological safety perception was negatively related to

turonver intention (r=-.389).

According to PLS (Partial Least Squares) Analyses findings supported our hyptheses.
There has to 3 requirements to support moderation effect in research Baron and Kenny
(1986). A Mediator is a variable that affects or modifies the relationship between predictor
(Independent variable) and dependent variable.. In a conceptual sense, if psychological safety

is a Mediator, it interacts with the predictor (Distributd leadership) to alter, decrease or


vanish the effect of the latter variable on the response Turnover Intention .
Independent variable has to predict dependent variable significantly.
Independent variable has to predict Mediator variable.
Mediator variable has to predict dependent variable.
Finally, the effect of independent variable on dependent variable has to decrease
(preferably to non-significant, but not usually that far) when Mediator is added.
Figure 2. The Effect of Distributed Leadership on Turnover Intention

T
The results of

first regression test shows that Distributed Leadership Behaviours

(Independent Variable) affect Turnover Intention (Dependent Variable) perceptions positive


and significantly (= -0,84, p<.001). Also the results confirmed hypotheses 1.
Figure 3. Research Model and Regression Test Result

Then in second phase by the results of regression test we can see that Distributed
Leadership affect Psychological Safety perceptions (Mediator) positively and significantly
(= .74; p<.001). This result confirmed Hypotheses 3.

In third phase Psychological Safety (Mediator) affect Turnover Intention (Dependent


Variable) negatively and significantly (= -.13; p<.001). This result confirmed Hypotheses 2.
In last phase the results of regression test shows that effect of Distributed Leadership
on Turnover Intention (Dependent Variable) decreased when Psychological Safety
Perceptions (Mediator) (= -.74; p<.001). Before Mediator was added signicificancy score
was (= -0,84, p<.001). This regression test result confirmed our research problem.
So the results confirmed and supported our research problem and hypotheses (Baron
and Kenny, 1986).

5. Discussion
In this study, we found support for the hypothesized negative effects of Distributed
Leadership Behaviors and Psychological Safety Perceptions on Turnover Intention . And also
we found positive effects of Distributedl Leadership Behaviors on Psychological Safety. In
addition, Mediator role of Psychological Safety Perceptions on the Relation Between
Distributed Leadership and Turnover Intention was confirmed. Schepers et al. (2007) showed
that Psychological Safety in schools promotes Techonology Using Behaviors. Dollard et al.
(2012) showed that psychological safety perceptions decrease work related stress in police
stations. Eggers (2010) showed that Psychological safety perceptions in organizations
promotes learning behaviors.
Brooks et al (2008) in their research called Distributed Leadership for Social
Justice. Found that Distributed Leadership behaviors related positively social justice in
schools. Clarke (2012) showed that distributed leadership behaviors have positive and
significant effect on project management. Conger ve Lawler (2009) showed that distributed
leadership behaviors positively related team spirit and project teams. Grant (2011) showed
that distributed leadership in schools promotes the effectiveness of leaders in school
management and interactional activites. Liu et al. (2014) showed that distributed leadership
behaviors promotes organizational learning and psychological safety.
This study has important implications for school leaders. First, the findings suggest
that schools should help raise distributed leadership and psychological safety perceptions in
order for employees to decrease turnover intention . Principals should encourage teachers to
bring up distributed leadership. Second, if leaders utilize diversity as an organizational
strategy, they must consider functional diversity in order to increase team creativity. Leaders
should exclude negative diversities that could foster minority discrimination. Finally, given
the need for team creativity in solving the complex challenges faced by schools, principals

should ensure that each member has a clear, shared sense direction and purpose. When
principals promote participation in project activities and identify the organizational contexts,
distributed leadership and knowledge sharing are most likely to positively influence effective
learning .

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AGE * EDUCATION Crosstabulation


Education Degree
High

Bachelor

Total

Master Degree

PhD

School
18-25

Count
% of Total

26-33

Count
% of Total

Age

34-41

Count
% of Total

42-49

Count
% of Total

50 and Over

Count
% of Total
Count

51

56

0,0%

15,6%

1,5%

0,0%

17,2%

84

13

99

0,6%

25,8%

4,0%

0,0%

30,4%

92

11

107

0,9%

28,2%

3,4%

0,3%

32,8%

48

11

59

0,0%

14,7%

3,4%

0,0%

18,1%

0,0%

1,5%

0,0%

0,0%

1,5%

280

40

326

1,5%

85,9%

12,3%

0,3%

100,0%

Total
% of Total

Gender * Position Crosstabulation


Position
Principal- Vice

Total
Teacher

Principal
Female

Count
% of Total

Gender
Male

167

170

0,9%

51,2%

52,1%

11

145

156

3,4%

44,5%

47,9%

14

312

326

4,3%

95,7%

100,0%

Count
% of Total
Count

Total
% of Total

Gender * Education Degree Crosstabulation


Education Degree
High

Bachelor

Total

Master Degree

PhD

School
Female

Count
% of Total

Gender
Male

141

26

170

0,9%

43,3%

8,0%

0,0%

52,1%

139

14

156

0,6%

42,6%

4,3%

0,3%

47,9%

280

40

326

1,5%

85,9%

12,3%

0,3%

100,0%

Count
% of Total
Count

Total
% of Total

Hypotheses

Results

H1

Positive Distributed Leadership behaviours in a school CONFIRMED


will be negatively related to turnover intention.

H2

Positive Psychological Safety perception

in school CONFIRMED

will result in low levels of turnover intention.

H3

Positive distributed leadershep wil be positively related CONFIRMED


to positive psychological safety