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Career Development International

Linking LMX, innovative work behaviour and turnover intentions: The mediating role of
work engagement
Upasna A. Agarwal Sumita Datta Stacy Blake-Beard Shivganesh Bhargava
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Upasna A. Agarwal Sumita Datta Stacy Blake-Beard Shivganesh Bhargava, (2012),"Linking LMX,
innovative work behaviour and turnover intentions", Career Development International, Vol. 17 Iss 3 pp. 208
- 230
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17,3 Linking LMX, innovative work
behaviour and turnover intentions
The mediating role of work engagement
Upasna A. Agarwal
Department of People and Performance,
Received 16 July 2011
Revised 22 December 2011 S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India
17 February 2012
6 April 2012
Sumita Datta
Accepted 6 April 2012 Department of Family Managed Business,
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S.P. Jain Institute of Management and Research, Mumbai, India

Stacy Blake-Beard
School of Management, Simmons College, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and
Shivganesh Bhargava
Department of Human Resources Management and Organization Behaviour,
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Mumbai, India
Purpose This study aims to examine the relationships among leader-member exchange (LMX),
innovative work behaviour (IWB), and intention to quit. The mediating role of work engagement is
tested within the relationship of LMX, IWB, and intention to quit.
Design/methodology/approach Respondents to a survey were 979 Indian managerial employees
working in six service sector organisations in India. Structural equation modelling was used to test
hypothesised relationships.
Findings Results suggest quality of exchanges between employees and their immediate
supervisors influences engagement. Work engagement correlates positively with innovative work
behaviour and negatively with intention to quit. Work engagement mediates the relationship between
LMX and innovative work behaviour, and partially mediates intention to quit.
Research limitations/implications A cross-sectional design and use of self-reported
questionnaire data is a limitation of this study. Since the study focuses only on service-sector
organisations, the results of this study should be interpreted with caution.
Originality/value This study makes important theoretical contributions in three ways. In the
domain of work engagement, it addresses factors that influence employee engagement and its outcomes.
It expands knowledge about organisational resources that foster work engagement. For LMX, this study
complements existing research by investigating work engagement as an outcome. Identifying LMX and
work engagement as antecedents of innovative work behaviour, it also extends research in that domain.
An important contribution is positioning work engagement as a means through which job resources are
linked to employee outcomes. The study is also a rare examination of the Indian context.
Keywords Work engagement, Innovative work behaviour, LMX, Intention to quit, Employees,
Managers, Workplace, Employees turnover, India
Paper type Research paper
Career Development International
Vol. 17 No. 3, 2012
pp. 208-230 Introduction
q Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Organisations increasingly realise that no company, small or large, achieves
DOI 10.1108/13620431211241063 sustainable success without engaging employees who bring high energy and passion
to their work (Macey et al., 2009). Work engagement is cognitive-affective motivation at LMX, IWB and
work, characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption (Schaufeli and Bakker, turnover
2004). Work engagement has far-reaching implications for quality of employees core
work responsibilities, and supports extra-role performance (Leiter and Bakker, 2010). intentions
Since engaged employees are vital for survival, sustainability, and growth,
organisational leaders increasingly cultivate this state among employees.
Encouraging individuals to invest more psychic energy in work is the most 209
powerful lever corporations possess to improve productivity (Erickson, 2005). Despite
important consequences of work engagement, scholarly research on the construct is
inadequate (Wefald and Downey, 2009a); little is known about factors that foster work
engagement, and there is insufficient information about its outcomes (Karatepe and
Olugbade, 2009).
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Increasing employee engagement is a challenging and complex undertaking; some

researchers suggest that the relationship quality an employee shares with immediate
supervisors, known as leader-member exchange (LMX), plays a pivotal role in
fostering engagement (Macey and Schneider, 2008). The principle of LMX theory is
that leaders develop different types of exchange relationships with direct reports, a
phenomenon labelled LMX differentiation (Liden et al., 2006). The quality of these
relationships influences important leader and member attitudes and behaviours
(Bhal et al., 2009; Gerstner and Day, 1997; Sparrowe and Liden, 1997). This study
examines the influences of LMX on work engagement.
Organisational leaders recognise they must continuously innovate on products and
internal processes (Dorenbosch et al., 2005). Given the importance of employee
innovative work behaviours to organisational sustainability and effectiveness, greater
efforts to uncover factors that encourage innovative work behaviours emerged in the
literature (Yuan and Woodman, 2010). Employee attrition remains a critical issue for
organisations and managers (Cascio, 2006). Retaining the best professional talent and
controlling the costs associated with recruiting, selecting, and hiring new employees
continue to be a challenge (Tymon et al., 2011). Given the significant impact of work
engagement on employee attitudes and discretionary work behaviours (Bakker, 2011),
studies are conducted to examine the relationship between work engagement and both
turnover intentions (Halbesleben, 2010) and innovative work behaviour (Bakker et al.,
2007; Bakker and Demerouti, 2007). This paper examines the influences of work
engagement on both innovative work behaviour and intention to quit in an Indian
context. Work engagement emerged recently as an important mediating variable (Rich
et al., 2010), with Job-Demand Resource ( JD-R) theory (Bakker and Demerouti, 2007;
Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, and Schaufeli, 2001a) providing a basis for much of
this work. According to JD-R theory, job resources such as organisational and
supervisor support have motivational potential; their availability increases
engagement of employees, which in turn fosters positive employee outcomes. This
paper examines the role of engagement as a means through which the
leader-subordinate relationship influences critical employee outcomes such as
innovative work behaviour and intention to quit.
This study makes a significant contribution by proposing and testing a research
model of work engagement (Figure 1), examining its antecedent, outcomes and
mediating effects. Examining the influence of supervisor-subordinate relationships on
employee work engagement, this study addresses the growing need to explore the


Figure 1.
Research model
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impact of a broader range of predictors of work engagement to acquire deeper

understanding of the construct (Chughtai and Buckley, 2011; Shuck and Wollard,
2009). Although work engagement is posited to play a mediating role, empirical studies
examining engagement as a means through which organisations create competitive
advantages are insufficient (Rich et al., 2010). This study proposes work engagement
as a mechanism that links LMX and outcomes, namely innovative work behaviour and
intention to quit.

Work engagement as a concept

Positive psychology emphasises leveraging human strengths, optimal functioning, and
wellbeing, for business success and competitive advantage (Luthans, 2002). One
positive organisational behaviour concept that emerged in the past decade is work
engagement. Macey et al. (2009, p. 5) define engagement as a psychic kick of
immersion, striving, absorption, focus and involvement. Engagement is discretionary
effort, achieved through the behavioural investment of physical, cognitive, and
emotional energy in work roles (Kahn, 1992). Engagement involves investing hands,
head, & heart (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995, p. 110) in active, full-work performance.
The conceptual basis for work engagement was provided by Kahns (1990)
ethnographic study of the members of an architecture firm. He defined engagement as
the harnessing of organisation members selves to their work role by which they
employ and express themselves physically, cognitively and emotionally during work
performances (Kahn, 1990, p. 694). There are various attempts to expand
engagements conceptualisation. The most accepted definition of work engagement
is from Schaufeli et al. (2002, p. 465) as a positive, fulfilling, work-related state of mind
characterised by vigour, dedication, and absorption. Vigour refers to high energy and
mental resilience while working, a willingness to invest effort in ones work, and
persistence even in the face of difficulties. Dedication refers to a sense of significance,
enthusiasm, inspiration, pride, and challenge. Absorption is characterised as being
fully concentrated and deeply engrossed in ones work, whereby time passes quickly
and one has difficulty detaching from work. Empirical studies demonstrate evidence
for a one-factor, parsimonious structure of work engagement (Wefald and Downey
(2009b). In this study, absorption, vigour, and dedication dimensions of engagement
are combined into an aggregate measure of engagement.
Although the phrases employee engagement and work engagement are often used
interchangeably, we prefer the latter because it is more specific. Work engagement
refers to the relationship of the employee with his or her work, whereas employee LMX, IWB and
engagement may include a relationship with the organisation. Research suggests work turnover
engagement can be measured reliably (Schaufeli et al., 2006), and can be discriminated
from related concepts such as job involvement and commitment (Hallberg and Schaufeli, intentions
2006). Though related, engagement does not occupy the same conceptual space as
organisation citizenship behaviour (OCB) (Macey and Schneider, 2008), job satisfaction,
or workaholism (Schaufeli and Salanova, 2008). Work engagement is a desirable 211
condition that has implications for employees experiencing it. At the individual level,
engaged employees enjoy good health and positive work affect (Demerouti, Bakker, De
Jonge et al., 2001b; Rothbard, 2001). Work engagement is relevant for organisations since
it results in customer satisfaction (Harter et al., 2002; Salanova et al., 2005), individual
work goals (productivity) (Schaufeli and Bakker, 2004), in-role and extra-role
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performance (Schaufeli et al., 2006), and financial returns (Xanthopoulou et al., 2007).
Given the clear importance of work engagement, it is not surprising that there are
increasing attempts to uncover conditions that foster employee engagement.

Relationship between LMX and work engagement

Several studies use overarching frameworks of the JD-R model to explain antecedents
of work engagement. The basic premise of JDR theory (Demerouti, Bakker, De Jonge
et al., 2001b; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, and Schaufeli, 2001a) is that working
environment characteristics can be classified into two general categories: job demands
and job resources. Job demands refer to physical, psychological, social, or
organisational aspects of the job that require sustained physical and/or
psychological (cognitive and emotional) effort, and are associated with physiological
and/or psychological costs. Examples of job demands are high work pressure, role
overload, emotional demands, and poor environmental conditions. High job demands
are related positively to emotional exhaustion (Bakker et al., 2007). Job resources refer
to those physical, psychological, social, or organisational aspects of a job that:
achieve work goals;
. reduce job demands and associated physiological and psychological costs; and
stimulate personal growth and development.

Job resources may be located at the organisational level (e.g. salary, career
opportunities, job security), among interpersonal and social relations (e.g. supervisor
and co-worker support, team climate), within the organisation of work (e.g. role clarity,
participation in decision making), and at the task level (e.g. performance feedback, skill
variety, task significance, task identity, autonomy). Various job resources examined as
predictors in the literature include autonomy, feedback, skill utilisation, job control
(Bakker and Geurts, 2004; Hakanen et al., 2006; Salanova et al., 2005; Schaufeli et al.,
2009; Xanthopoulou et al., 2007), and co-worker and supervisory support (May et al.,
2004; Saks, 2006).
A subordinates immediate manager is a representative of the organisation, a
purveyor of job resources that facilitate employees achievement of job demands.
Organisational leaders create a context in which direct reports operate. Since
immediate managers are agents of the organisation, their behaviours play critical roles
in shaping employee attitudes and behaviours (Bhatnagar, 2007; Joo, 2010; Rousseau
and Greller, 1994; Tymon et al., 2011; Whitener, 2001). Manager support exists when
CDI employees perceive their immediate manager as someone who leads by example, offers
17,3 support needed to do a job well, is personally effective, and is good at developing
The quality of relationships between supervisors and subordinates is often studied
via LMX theory. These relationships are characterised as high quality, reflecting trust,
respect, and loyalty, or low quality, reflecting mistrust, low respect, and a lack of
212 loyalty (Morrow et al., 2005). Sparrowe and Liden (1997) found individuals in
high-quality LMX relationships receive more of a leaders time, more direction
information, and more emotional support than those in low-quality relationships. Such
subordinates have an advantage since their supervisors introduce them to key people
in the social network, leading to additional information and political and social
resources (Sparrowe and Liden, 1997). Subordinates with a strong, high-quality
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relationship with immediate managers experience psychological safety, the belief that
the environment is safe to take interpersonal risks (Spreitzer et al., 2010). Psychological
safety is important for fostering work engagement because it reduces the depletion of
vigour, a core dimension of engagement. In high-quality exchange relationships,
leaders mentor subordinates (Scandura and Schriesheim, 1994). Bhatnagar (2007)
argues that mentors enhance employee engagement; leaders of high-quality exchange
relationships represent resources that facilitate accomplishment of work goals,
stimulate personal development, and increase work engagement among employees.
Although the quality of exchange relationship between employees and supervisors is
posited to be a critical job resource that influences employee engagement (Macey et al.,
2009), this association is not often tested empirically.
The positive relationship between LMX and work engagement can also be
explained using the Social Exchange Theory (SET). SET suggests that obligations are
generated through a series of interactions between parties (e.g. between a leader and
subordinate) in a state of reciprocal interdependence (Gouldner, 1960). When an
immediate supervisor provides opportunities for development, fair supervision,
meaningful work, and autonomy, subordinates feel obliged to repay leaders with
higher levels of organisational commitment, citizenship behaviours (Bhal, 2006),
innovation (Basu and Green, 1997; Scott and Bruce, 1998), competency (Epitropaki and
Martin, 2005; Lee, 2007), and trust (Bauer and Green, 1996). Another way for
individuals to reciprocate is through engagement. Engagement is payback or
reciprocation for what an employee receives. People reciprocate because they
fundamentally believe in reciprocation (Macey et al., 2009, p. 15).
Reciprocity between subordinate and immediate supervisor can be explained by
psychological contract theory. The psychological contract encapsulates perceived
promises employees believe are made to them in exchange for effort (e.g. skill, loyalty,
discretionary work behaviour) (Rousseau, 2000). To the extent value propositions meet
needs, employees perform at levels consistent with their interpretations of an implicit
contract (Macey et al., 2009). When supervisors fulfil the psychological contracts of
their employees by taking care of personal and professional needs and treating them
with respect, that fulfilment creates a sense of obligation for the subordinates to
reciprocate in equally positive ways. Employees feel obligated to reciprocate by
approaching their work with greater vigour, dedication, and absorption (Saks, 2006).
Drawing from a strong foundation of JD-R and SET, we posit:
H1. LMX correlates positively with work engagement.
Work engagement, turnover intentions and innovative work behaviour LMX, IWB and
Work engagement and turnover intentions turnover
A review of the literature suggests work engagement correlates negatively with
turnover intention (Saks, 2006). Halbeslebens (2010) recent meta-analysis intentions
demonstrates there was a strong negative relationship between work engagement
and turnover intention with corrected population correlations ranging
from 2 0.25 (vigour) to 20.45 (dedication). The negative relationship between 213
work engagement and turnover intention is explained by SET (Robinsons and
Morrison, 1995; Rousseau, 1995), suggesting that when one party provides something
to another, the provider expects reciprocation. Organisations are the prime purveyors
of job resources that facilitate employees achieving a fulfilling, positive work-related
state of mind (work engagement). Procuring these benefits necessitates that
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individuals turn a portion of their energy, time, and effort over to employers. Based
on this reasoning, continuing organisational membership is analogous with making an
investment that increases employee perceived entitlement and decreases perceived
debt (Cropanzano et al., 1997; Robinsons and Morrison, 1995). Replicating past
literature, we posit:
H2a. Work engagement correlates negatively with turnover intention.

Work engagement and innovative work

To cope with global competition and environmental uncertainty, organisations need
employees who not only fulfil formal job requirements, but exceed standard work
behaviours by engaging innovatively (Janssen, 2000). Innovative work behaviour is
intentional creation, introduction, and application of new ideas within a work role,
group, or organisation to benefit role performance, a group, or an organisation (West
and Farr, 1989). The central role of innovation in long-term survival (Ancona and
Caldwell, 1987) provokes continued interest among social scientists and practitioners.
Studies into innovative behaviour are in early stages, and limited attention is given
to antecedents. Of extant studies, leadership, individual problem-solving style, and
work-group relations (Scott and Bruce, 1994); distributive and procedural fairness
(Janssen, 2004); supervisor supportiveness ( Janssen, 2004); and self-leadership, income,
and job tenure skills (Carmeli and Weisberg, 2006) are examined to determine if they
have implications for innovativeness. However, limited efforts have been made to
examine work engagement as an antecedent of innovativeness (Hakanen et al., 2008).
Organisations often introduce innovations to provide benefits (West and Farr,
1989), but adopting innovations requires employees to invest substantial effort. Since
innovative behaviours involve creation of something new, they require employees to
concentrate and become absorbed in their work (absorption). Innovation is also
change-oriented (Spreitzer, 1995; Woodman et al., 1993). Other employees in the work
environment may resist changes because of the insecurities and uncertainties they
bring (Argyris, 1960). Hence, innovative employees are often confronted by workers
who want to prevent change. Convincing resistant workers of the benefits of
innovations can be difficult and emotionally taxing. Innovation is a multistage process,
including idea generation, idea promotion, and idea realisation; varying behaviours are
necessary at each stage (Janssen, 2004). Therefore, it is paramount that employees
possess the mental resilience to resist the temptation to distract from work (vigour). To
make such cognitive and emotional investments persistently, individuals must
CDI perceive significance and pride in what they are doing, and regard the extra effort
17,3 worthwhile. It is only when individuals have such likeability toward their jobs that
they can concentrate fully on their work (dedication).
Absorption (being fully concentrated and deeply engrossed in work), vigour (high
levels of energy and mental resilience, and persistence even in the face of difficulties)
and dedication (a sense of likeability, significance, and challenge in tasks) required to
214 develop an innovative work approach are the core dimensions of work engagement.
Work engagement, a persistent positive affective-cognitive state characterised by
vigour, dedication, and absorption (Wefald and Downey, 2009b), contributes to the
development of innovative work behaviour. Bakker et al. (2007) found positive
correlations between innovativeness and the three dimensions of work engagement:
(1) vigour;
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(2) dedication; and

(3) absorption.

Thus, we hypothesise:
H2b. Work engagement correlates positively with innovative work behaviour.

Mediating role of work engagement

An important assumption of JD-R theory is that job resources link to organisational
outcomes via engagement. The presence of adequate job resources (LMX, in this case)
reduces job demands, fosters goal accomplishment, and stimulates positive affective
reactions (Hobfoll, 2001), including work engagement. When employees find their work
meaningful and interesting, they are enthusiastic to immerse themselves in their work,
and persevere to complete even the most difficult assignment. Feeling good about work
sparks a willingness to experiment, leading to the creation of new ideas and novel
solutions (Fredrickson, 2001) such as innovative work behaviour. JD-R suggests
employees experiencing likeability toward work are less likely to leave the
organisation (turnover intention) (Saks, 2006).
Studies demonstrate the robustness of the motivational process through the
mediating role of work engagement in the relationship between job resources and
organisational outcomes. In a study by Saks (2006), engagement mediated the
relationships between antecedents ( job characteristics, perceived supervisory support,
rewards and recognition, procedural justice and distributive justice) and organisational
commitment, intention to quit, and organisational citizenship behaviour-individual,
and partially mediated the relationship with other outcomes ( job satisfaction and
organisational citizenship behaviour-organisation). Sonnentags (2003) study found
that engagement mediates the effects of recovery on proactive behaviour, and Schaufeli
and Bakker (2004) argue engagement mediates the relationship between job resources
and turnover intentions. Richardsen et al. (2006) found that work engagement partially
mediated the effects of individual characteristics, job demands, and job resources on
organisational commitment and self-efficacy. Schaufeli and Salanova (2008) suggest
work engagement mediates the relationship between job resources (variety, control
and feedback) and proactive behaviour. Finally, Rich et al. (2010) discovered
engagement mediates relationships between value congruence, perceived
organisational support, core self-evaluations, task performance and organisational
citizenship behaviour. We expect that work engagement mediates the relationship LMX, IWB and
between LMX and innovative work behaviour. Therefore: turnover
H3. Work engagement mediates the relationship between LMX and outcomes of intentions
innovative work behaviour and turnover intention.

Sample and study procedure

The sample for this study was drawn from organisations in the service sector in India.
Various organisations located in and around Mumbai, the financial capital of India,
were invited to participate. The services sector is important for many worldwide
economies, particularly in India. According to the Services Sector-Union Budget and
Economic Survey (2010-2011), the contribution of the services sector to the Indian
economy is manifold: a 55.2 per cent share in gross domestic product (GDP), growing
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10 per cent annually, contributing about a quarter of total employment, accounting for
a high share in foreign direct investment (FDI) inflows, a third of total exports, and
recording very fast (27.4 per cent) export growth through the first half of 2010.
A few of the organisations requested that the researchers make a brief presentation
about the objectives, scope, and implications of the study. A total of six private-service
companies consented to participate. These companies were an investment bank, a
business process outsourcing (BPO) firm, a knowledge process outsourcing (KPO)
firm, an information technology (IT) company, a telecommunication company, and a
retail company. Data were collected from managers. Managers are an important group
to investigate because they play a key role by making important economic
contributions to an organisations (Quick and Cooper, 2002). For the purposes of this
study, managers with team responsibility (at least three subordinates) were selected.
The human resources departments of the six organisations assisted the researchers
identify prospective managers who fit this criterion. Stratified random sampling was
used to select managers across ages, gender, tenures, education, hierarchical levels, and
functions. A total of 1,500 managers were sent an invitation by the HR team of their
respective organisations to volunteer for the study; 1,200 volunteered to participate.
Groups were categorised according to convenience of the employees to optimise
organisational time and facilitate data collection. A questionnaire was prepared in
English since it is spoken and understood by the majority of people in Indian
organisational contexts. A hardcopy version of the survey was administered to the
employees directly by the researchers. Attached to each questionnaire was a cover
letter explaining the objectives of the study and assuring respondents the study
was voluntary and their responses would be confidential. Of 1,200 responses, 979
were usable for further analysis, a response rate of 81.6 per cent; 65 per cent of
respondents were men and 35 per cent were women. Respondents had an average age of
30 years SD 7 and average tenure at their current jobs was four years SD 1:7;
68.6 per cent were graduates (with a bachelors degree) and 31.4 per cent were
post-graduates (with a Masters degree). Respondents represented diverse functional
backgrounds, including accounting/finance (7.6 per cent), engineering (16 per cent),
sales/marketing (14.5 per cent), production/manufacturing (44.3 per cent), computer
systems (2.3 per cent), human resources/administration (9.9 per cent),
consumer services (2.3 per cent), and research and development (3.1 per cent). In
terms management hierarchy, 45 per cent were lower-level managers, 44 per cent were
middle-level managers, and 11 per cent were top-level managers.
CDI Measures
Indicators were used to estimate each latent variable. Unless otherwise indicated, all
17,3 measures used a response scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly
Work engagement was measured with the nine-item version of the Utrecht Work
Engagement Scale (UWES) (Schaufeli et al., 2006). The UWES reflects three underlying
216 dimensions, each measured with three items:
(1) vigour (at my work, I feel bursting with energy);
(2) dedication (my job inspires me); and
(3) absorption (I get carried away when I am working).

The three dimensions of engagement were aggregated to create an overall scale of

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work engagement. High scores on all three dimensions indicate high work engagement.
The Cronbachs alpha coefficient for the scale was 0.88.
Likert scale. A sample item included do you have a positive working relationship with
your supervisor? The Cronbachs alpha coefficient for the scale was 0.92.
Because measuring turnover is rather difficult, many studies rely on turnover
intentions. These intentions are correlated strongly with actual turnover (Hulin, 1991).
This study used a five-item scale developed by Wayne et al. (1997). A sample item
included I am seriously thinking of quitting my job. The Cronbachs alpha coefficient
for this scale was 0.90.
Innovative behaviour was rated using Janssens (2000) nine-item measure.
Respondents indicated how often they performed innovative activities, including
creating new ideas for difficult issues (idea generation), mobilising support for
innovative ideas (idea promotion), and transforming innovative ideas into useful
applications (idea realisation). The three dimensions of innovative work behaviour
were summed to create an overall scale of innovative behaviour. The Cronbachs alpha
coefficient for the scale was 0.92.
A three-item measure of solitary work preference from Ramamoorthy and Flood
(2004) was chosen as a marker variable for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The
Cronbachs alpha coefficient for the scale was 0.82.
Research suggests age, gender, education, job level, and tenure relate to engagement
(Schaufeli and Bakker, 2003). Since we are interested in examining the relationship
between LMX, work engagement, innovative work behaviours, and intention to quit,
the demographic variables mentioned above were controlled for in data analyses to rule
out alternative explanations. These variables were measured as: gender 0 male;
1 female; job level 0 junior level; 1 middle level; 2 senior level), and
education level (0 bachelors; 1 Masters: Tenure and age were reported in years.

Analysis approach
Table I shows descriptive statistics and correlations for each variable. The constructs
used in the study were reliable, with coefficients ranging from 0.88 to 0.92, exceeding
the minimum of 0.70 (Nunnally, 1978). A significant relationship was observed
between demographic variables and several of the primary variables in this study. Age
and tenure were related to work engagement, turnover intentions, and innovative work
behaviours. Gender was related to work engagement and innovative work behaviours.
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Job Turnover
Mean SD Age Gender Education Tenure level LMX intention WE IWB

Age 30.4 7 1
Gender 1.20 0.40 20.19 * * 1
Education 3.9 1.7 20.09 * 20.01 1
Tenure 4 1.7 0.71 * 20.09 * 20.17 * 1
Job level 1.3 0.8 0.31 * 20.11 * 0.08 * 0.19 * 1
LMX 4.9 0.9 0.03 20.02 20.01 0.03 0.07 * 1 (0.92)
Turnover intention 3.3 0.9 20.14 * 0.01 20.02 2 0.09 * 2 0.08 * 2 0.34 * 1 (0.90)
Work engagement (WE) 4.5 0.8 0.20 * 20.05 * 20.03 0.16 * 0.12 * 0.41 * 20.40 * 1 (0.88)
Innovative work behaviour
(IWB) 3.7 0.7 0.16 * 20.16 * 0.08 0.12 * 0.17 * 0.20 * 20.09 * 0.38 * 1 (0.92)
Solitary work preference 5.8 0.85 0.03 0.02 20.02 2 0.04 2 0.01 0.15 0.23 0.32 1 (0.82)
Note: n 979; alpha reliabilities are given in the parentheses; *p , 0.01; * * p , 0.001

Means, standard

deviations, and
LMX, IWB and


Table I.
CDI Job level was related to LMX, turnover intentions, work engagement, and innovative
17,3 work behaviours. Therefore, we controlled for these effects in further analysis by
adding only significant paths in the structural model.
There were also sample differences observed among the variables (e.g. LMX, work
engagement, and innovative work behaviours). Sample differences were expected since
organisations naturally have varying business processes and challenges. To maintain
218 diversity in our sample and capitalise on statistical power, we combined the samples to
analyze hypothesised relationships. This methodology is followed by researchers in
recent literature (Behery, 2009; Restubog et al., 2009). We tested hypotheses with
structural equation modelling (SEM). The sample size of 979 managerial employees
was sufficient for statistical analysis (Nunnally, 1967). The chi-square statistic, root
mean square error of approximation (RMSEA), standardised root mean square residual
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(SRMR), comparative fit index (CFI), normed fit index (NFI), and the goodness of fit
index (GFI) were assessed model fit. Hu and Bentler (1999) suggest that for CFI, NFI,
and GFI, values 0.95 and above suggest good fit. SRMR values below 0.08 suggest an
acceptable model fit. For RMSEA, researchers recommend values less than 0.05
indicate good fit, while values between 0.05 and 0.08 suggest acceptable fit (Kline,

Preliminary analyses
Common method variance
To detect common method variance (CMV), we used the post-hoc CFA marker
technique (Williams et al., 2010) recommended by Richardson et al. (2009). In this
technique, common method variance is represented by the shared variance between a
marker variable and substantive constructs. Application of the marker variable
technique requires inclusion of a variable that is unrelated to at least one focal variable.
The correlation observed between the marker variable and the unrelated variable is
interpreted as an estimate of CMV (Lindell and Whitney, 2001). As suggested by
Richardson et al. (2009), four models were estimated for each simulated
independent-dependent construct pair:
(1) a baseline model;
(2) method-C model;
(3) method-U model; and
(4) method-R model.

The baseline model forces correlations between the marker construct and both the
independent and dependent constructs in the set to zero, and fixed marker
construct-marker item loadings to the unstandardised values obtained from a basic
CFA model of the substantive and marker constructs. The method-C model is identical
to the baseline model but with the addition of factor loadings from the marker
construct to each independent/dependent indicator. These loadings were constrained to
be equal (i.e. non-congeneric). The method-U model is identical to the method-C model,
but the marker construct independent/dependent item loadings are estimated freely
(i.e. congeneric). Finally, the method-R model is identical to either the method-C/U
model, though the independent-dependent construct correlation is constrained to its
unstandardised value from the baseline model.
We chose the three-item solitary work preferences subscale of individualism and LMX, IWB and
collectivism (Ramamoorthy and Flood, 2004) as a marker variable because solitary turnover
work preferences unrelated to the antecedent and outcomes of work engagement. Fit
statistics for the Method-C model, Method-U model and Method-R model were not intentions
better than those for the baseline model. Chi-square difference tests comparing the
baseline with the other models were not significant. Thus, it is unlikely CMV was a
concern in subsequent analyses. 219
Prior to testing the hypotheses, we conducted a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to
examine the dimensionality and convergent and discriminant validity of measures. The
model fit of a four-factor measurement model (LMX, work engagement, innovative work
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behaviour, and intention to quit) was compared to a one-factor model in which

all constructs loaded on a single factor. The results for the four-factor model were
x 2 10228:2; df 4187; p , 0.01, while the single factor model was x 2 44711:6;
df 4280; p , 0.01. The chi-square of the four-factor model was significantly lower
Dx 2 34483:6; Ddf 93; p , 0.01). The four-factor model also demonstrated better fit
CFI 0:99; SRMR 0:05; GFI 0:82; RMSEA 0:04; NFI 0:96; while the
results of the one-factor model showed worse fit CFI 0:36; SRMR 0:08; GFI
0:83; RMSEA 0:05; NFI 0:42: Thus, the four-factor model was retained for further
We assessed hypotheses by adding predicted paths to the measurement model.
The structural model provided adequate fit to the data x 2 14990:6; df 2849;
x 2 =df 5:2; and the path coefficient in Figure 1 support all hypotheses. LMX
correlated positively with work engagement b 0:23; p , 0.01). Work engagement
correlated positively with innovative work behaviours b 0:33; p , 0.01), and
negatively with turnover intention b 20:23; p , 0.01). These results support H1,
H2a and H2b, respectively.
Following guidelines offered by Baron and Kenny (1986) and consistent with extant
research (Salanova and Schaufeli, 2008), we compared the fit of two models (M1 and
M2) to assess the mediating role of work engagement. The first model (Figure 2), which
we refer to as the fully mediated model, is equivalent to the hypothesised model. This
model predicts mediation of work engagement, with no direct paths between LMX and
outcomes. This model demonstrated good fit x 2 14001:4; df 3500; x 2 =df 5:2;
CFI 0:93; GFI 0:90; RMSEA 0:05; SRMR 0:05; NFI 0:91: The second
model (M2, Figure 3), the partially mediated model, adds two paths from LMX to
innovative work behaviours and intention to quit. The fit of this model was better than
the first x 2 10000; df 2849; x 2 =df 3:5; CFI 0:93; GFI 0:95; RMSEA
0:04; SRMR 0:05; NFI 0:95: However, the direct relationship between LMX and
innovative work behaviours moved from significant b 0:23; p , 0.01) to
non-significant b 0:13; n:s; suggesting mediation; the direct relationship
between LMX and turnover intention dropped b 20:23; p , 0.01, to b 20:13;
p , 0.05), suggesting partial mediation. Thus, H3 was supported partially.
To rule out innovative work behaviour as a mediator between LMX and
engagement, an alternative model, M3, was fitted to the data (Figure 4). The fit of this
model was inferior CFI 0:93; GFI 0:90; SRMR 0:06; RMSEA 0:05; NFI
0:90 to that of M1 (Figure 2) and M2 (Figure 3). Hence, innovative work behaviour
CDI does not play a mediating role. For accuracy, we used the Sobel (1982) test to confirm
17,3 the mediator or indirect relationships among constructs. The p-value of less than 0.05
confirmed that work engagement plays a mediating role for both innovative work
behaviour z 5:60; p , 0.01) and turnover intention z 5:00; p , 0.01) of
employees. The Sobel test results affirm that work engagement mediates
relationships between LMX and outcomes.
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Figure 2.
M1 mediated model

Figure 3.
M2 partially mediated

Figure 4.
M3 alternative model
Discussion and implications LMX, IWB and
The reason executives are attracted to discretionary effort is that they recognise all turnover
activity is not subject to management design and control. Organisations increasingly
need employees who do not need prodding and who not only sense the need for getting intentions
things done, but actually do it. They need energetic employees who go beyond job
descriptions, employees who are engaged (Macey et al., 2009). Given its critical role, a
need continues among executives and scholars for better understanding of the factors 221
that stimulate engagement. This study investigates links between LMX and work
engagement, testing relationships between work engagement, innovative work
behaviours, and turnover intentions. Finally, it conceptualises work engagement as a
mediator. The results we obtained lead to three conclusions. First, quality of exchanges
between employees and immediate supervisors influence engagement levels. Second,
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work engagement relates positively to innovative work behaviour and negatively to

turnover intentions. Third, work engagement mediates the relationship between LMX
and innovative work behaviour.
Findings from this study suggest a crucial role that an immediate leader plays in
fostering engagement. Leaders who support subordinates (professionally and
emotionally) give them direction and information, and unleash hidden potential and
foster willingness among subordinates to dedicate efforts and abilities to accomplish
work tasks (Meijman and Mulder, 1998). This critical role of the immediate leader on
subordinate behaviour is significant contextually. Culturally, employees in collectivist
cultures attach greater importance to organisation hierarchy (Varma et al., 2005).
People in such societies possess greater associative and nurturing needs (Restubog
et al., 2010), and look up to supervisors for support, protection, and guidance much
more than employees in western cultures (Anand et al., 2010; Tripathi, 1990). When
employees receive support and care from immediate supervisors, they reciprocate by
dedicating efforts to accomplish tasks.
This study highlights the attitudinal and behavioural contributions that engaged
employees make to organisations. Since engaged employees experience positive
emotions, including happiness, joy, interest, and enthusiasm in their work (Schaufeli
et al., 2006), they possess a lower tendency to quit. Engaged employees promote
organisational effectiveness by demonstrating discretionary innovative work
behaviours (Borman and Motowidlo, 1997). The positive effects of work engagement
on innovative behaviour are consistent with the Broaden-and-Build theory of positive
emotions (Fredrickson, 2001), positing experiencing positive emotions broadens
thought-action repertoires, thus increasing likelihood of innovative work behaviour.
An important contribution made by this study lies in the relationship between LMX
and outcomes via engagement. LMX does not influence innovative work behaviour
directly; it impacts this variable indirectly through increased work engagement. Even
if organisations demonstrate supportive practices, innovative behaviour depends on
how engaged the employees are at work. Work engagement is pivotal for organisations
that desire achieving competitive advantages through strategic objectives of
innovative work behaviours and retaining talented employees.

Implications for managers

Since work engagement is an essential state with relevant consequences, firms must
create and sustain the energy and passion that people bring to work. Results of the
CDI study suggest the critical role of supervisors in stimulating employee engagement. A
17,3 number of implications for organisations and HR leaders follow. Organisations could
create experiential settings where supervisors practice and learn to better utilise
supportive work behaviours. For example, organisations with assessment centres
could use them to create programs that help supervisors learn skills associated with
supportive work behaviour (Zagenczyk et al., 2009). Organisations should strive to
222 develop cultures in which employees support one another actively by enhancing
communication between supervisors and employees. Bhal et al. (2009) recommend that
work-related interactions are enhanced by encouraging seniors to coach, guide, and
mentor subordinates. There is research evidence that perceptions of supervisory
fairness influence extra-role behaviours (Macey et al., 2009; Skarlicki and Latham,
1996). Thus, organisations should conduct programs to train supervisors to treat
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subordinates fairly and politely, and improve supervisory and interpersonal skills.
Nurturing leaders who build personal bonds with subordinates go a long way in
stimulating affective reactions to work experience (Kuvaas and Dysvik, 2010).
Organisations can create scenarios in which managers meet frequently subordinates
informally. Company outings or meetings on festive occasions create a family-oriented
organisation that help enrich quality of relationships between employees and
managers (Restubog et al., 2009). Immediate supervisors develop personal
relationships with their subordinates by remembering events important to the
employee such as employment anniversary dates, birthdays, and family events
(Tymon et al., 2011). Since supervisors play an important role in employee engagement
and an employees decision to continue employment, HR professionals can provide
better manager support training and hold managers accountable for retention. HR
leaders should consider setting engagement levels for subordinates as a parameter of
evaluation for managerial effectiveness at all levels.
At the employee level, firms can introduce training programs that increase work
engagement. In a study by Breso et al. (2008), a stress management intervention
program among students that focused on enhancing positive emotional states as a
source to self-efficacy was successful in increasing engagement, self-efficacy, and
academic performance. However, engagement is not a transitory phenomenon. For
sustained competitive advantage, firms should create and sustain a culture of
engagement. Macey et al. (2009) suggest various steps that organisations can take to a
build a culture of engagement to yield competitive advantage, including treating
people fairly and as valued resources, building an environment of trust in management
and in immediate supervisors, strengthening recruitment and socialisation by
attracting people disposed to doing well in such work environment, and
communicating engagement culture through an on-boarding process in which
employees learn about the organisations culture. Designing meaningful and
challenging jobs and providing autonomy and feedback with which people can do
their best unleash psychic energy. Effective engagement undertaken by managers
across the organisation should be shared and rewarded openly to institutionalise a
culture of engagement.

Theoretical contributions
This study makes important theoretical contributions to three bodies of knowledge. In
the domain of work engagement, the study joins a small but growing body of research
that addresses factors that influence employee engagement and its outcomes. LMX, IWB and
Examining the role of LMX on work engagement, this study expands knowledge about turnover
organisational resources that foster willingness to dedicate efforts and abilities to a
work task. For LMX, this study complements existing research by investigating work intentions
engagement as an outcome. Identifying LMX and work engagement as antecedents of
innovative work behaviour, this study also extends research in that domain, still in its
early stages. An important theoretical contribution of this study is positioning work 223
engagement as a means through which job resources are linked to employee outcomes.
Examining the mediating role of work engagement in the LMX-outcome relationship,
this study addresses a call to examine the mechanisms that operate between LMX and
attitudes and behaviours. Finally, the study contributes in terms of context. With
multinational corporations increasingly opening businesses in India, an understanding
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of employee motivation is an important concern. This research is a rare examination of

Indian manager engagement.

Limitations and future research

Despite substantive theoretical contributions, the study is not without limitations. The
cross-sectional design of the study does not allow us to determine causality among
variables. This limitation means arrows suggesting association among constructs
should not be interpreted as causal relationships, but as associations that suggest
causal ordering that should be confirmed with longitudinal research designs. That the
alternative model of behaviour demonstrated poor fit suggests alternative causal
ordering is unlikely. Only longitudinal research can disentangle cause and effect
adequately. Results may partly be influenced by CMV because all data were collected
through self-reports. We followed some procedural remedies advocated by Podsakoff
et al. (2003). To reduce evaluation apprehension and prevent response distortion,
participants were guaranteed confidentiality. All variables were measured with
established scales, which mitigate measurement error and decrease common method
bias (Spector, 1987). Results of the post-hoc, CFA marker technique (Richardson et al.,
2009; Williams et al., 2010) and CFA revealed common method bias was not a serious
concern. Nevertheless, future studies should collect data from multiple sources to avoid
such problems. For example, innovative work behaviours could also be assessed
through observer ratings. We employed only two criteria measures:
(1) turnover intentions; and
(2) innovative work behaviours.

Future research should replicate the findings of this study on outcomes measured
through methods other than self-report. Since data were collected from service
organisations in western India, we cannot be sure of the generalisabilty of results to
firms in other sectors or locations. However, these six service organisations differed in
terms of size, structure, and business goals, which dilute concerns of generalisability.
Future studies should evaluate the model in diverse geographic and occupational
settings to enhance the external validity.

The motivational basis of employee work attitudes and behaviours is an important
component of the research agenda relating to management practices, especially in
CDI employment relationships. This study contributes to the ongoing debate about the
17,3 motivational potential of job resources on work engagement. Results suggest employee
work engagement benefits organisations by motivating employees intrinsically to
adopt an innovative work approach. These results reinforce the practical value of
research examining factors that foster affective reactions (work engagement) and their
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Corresponding author
Upasna A. Agarwal can be contacted at:
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