Benefits or Costs? The Positive and Negative Effects of Leader Boundary Spanning Behavior on Leader Performance
2021, 33 (4):
Many studies have demonstrated that leader boundary spanning has positive effects on its recipients (e.g., organizations, teams and employees). However, little attention has been paid to the impact of leader boundary spanning on the actors (leaders). Since leaders play a dominant role in organizational development, it becomes more important to explore the meaningful effects and mechanisms of leader behaviors on themselves. Adopting an actor-centric perspective, the current research examines the double-edge sword effects of leader boundary spanning behavior by linking resource generation process and resource depletion process, then explores the boundary conditions to test how to enhance the accumulated path of resources, and buffer the loss path of resources. Hence, this study attempts to broaden our understanding of the consequences and perspectives of leader boundary spanning behavior.
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To test the proposed theoretical model, the present study surveys 82 R&D managers from different industries in China using experience sampling method. One week before the start of the daily surveys, we sent a questionnaire containing the demographic information (e.g., age, gender, organization tenure and dyadic tenure) to the participants. During the daily survey, participants were sent two surveys each day while they were at work for 13 workdays. At time 1(3:30pm), managers completed measures of leader boundary spanning behavior, thriving at work, emotional exhaustion and role ambiguity. At time 2(8:30pm), managers completed the measures of job performance.
The results show that, (1) similar to other types of leader behavior, leader boundary spanning behavior is a short-term phenomenon. (2) Daily leader boundary spanning behavior is not only positively related to thriving at work and then increase their job performance, but also increased emotional exhaustion and therefore have negative effect on their performance. (3) Leader’s perception of knowledge acquisition influences the strength of daily relationship between leader boundary spanning behavior and its positive (thriving at work) and negative outcomes (emotional exhaustion), that is, high level knowledge acquisition strengthens the positive association between leader boundary spanning behavior and thriving at work whereas buffers the detrimental impact of leader boundary spanning behavior on emotional exhaustion.
Our research is important theoretically because it enriches and extends the current boundary spanning behavior literature. Specifically, (1) taking an actor perspective, this study explores both positive and negative effect of leader boundary spanning behavior, as well as the underlying mechanism, which can help understand the benefit and cost of this organizational phenomenon more comprehensively. (2) By revealing the boundary conditions, this study helps understand how maximize the positive effect and minimize the detrimental effect of leader boundary spanning behavior.