How Learning Goal Orientation Fosters Leadership Recognition in Self-managed Teams: A Two-stage Mediation Model

Yih-Teen Lee, Minna Paunova

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Defined as a mental framework for how individuals interpret and respond to achievement situations, learning goal orientation (LGO) has received increasing attention in organisational research. However, its effect on leadership, especially in contexts absent of formal leadership, remains understudied. Drawing on social exchange theory, we propose and test an individual-level two-stage process model of generalised exchange linking LGO and leadership recognition in self-managed teams. Specifically, we posit that learning-oriented individuals will tend to feel safer in self-managed teams, which will enable and sustain their engagement in contextual role behavior. Such behavior, in turn, will be reciprocated with recognition of these individuals as leaders. We use a multiphase, multi-informant approach (n = 287), and we find that felt safety mediates the effect of LGO on contextual role behavior, but that contextual role behavior alone does not mediate the effect of LGO on leadership recognition. LGO has an indirect effect on leadership recognition through the joint mediation of felt safety and contextual role behavior. Our results offer insight on the link between LGO and leadership, with practical implications for people working in self-managed teams.
Original languageEnglish
JournalApplied Psychology
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)553-576
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Published online: 27. June 2017


  • Learning goal orientation
  • Leadership
  • Self-managed teams
  • Felt safety
  • Contextual role behavior

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