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Acknowledging that only examining the main effects of diversity may be limiting, the authors explore integrating van Knippenberg et al.'s (2004) categorization–elaboration model (CEM) of workgroup diversity as a linchpin in the relationship between empowering leadership and performance in age-diverse work groups. While prior research has focused almost exclusively on the impact of transformational leadership in diverse contexts, few studies have found the positive effects of transformational leadership to be diminished in certain age-diverse contexts. Consequently, the authors investigate whether empowering leadership may be a better approach in this context due to its emphasis on accommodating and participative behaviors.Design/methodology/approachUsing survey data gathered from work group members across a wide array of industries (N = 214), the authors test for the moderating effects of empowering leadership on the relationship between age diversity and work group performance and its indirect relationship via information elaboration (while controlling for transformational leadership).FindingsEmpowering leadership positively moderated the direct relationship between age diversity and work group performance and the indirect relationship via information elaboration, whereas transformational leadership had the opposite effect. “Coaching” and “showing concern/interacting with the team” drove the positive effects of empowering leadership, and “personal recognition” and “intellectual stimulation” predicted the negative effects of transformational leadership.Practical implicationsThis research offers insights into how managers can lead age-diverse work groups more effectively (i.e. by utilizing an empowering as opposed to a transformational leadership approach, with a particular emphasis on “coaching” and “showing concern/interacting with the team” behaviors).Originality/valueThe study identifies an “alternative” moderating contingency to the age diversity–performance relationship (empowering leadership).
Leadership & Organization Development Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 20, 2021
Keywords: Empowering leadership; Transformational leadership; Team performance; Information elaboration; Work group age diversity
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