Start with why: The transfer of work meaningfulness from leaders to followers and the role of dyadic tenure

Petra Kipfelsberger, Anneloes Raes, Dennis Herhausen, Ronit Kark, Heike Bruch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Leaders are expected to enhance the work meaningfulness of followers, but little insight exists on the role of leaders' own experience of meaningfulness in that process. We propose a leader–follower transfer model of work meaningfulness through visionary leadership, grounded in self-concept-based theory, in which leader–follower dyadic tenure shapes the effects of visionary leadership on followers. Moreover, we suggest that work meaningfulness can enhance followers' goal achievement and reduce turnover intentions. We tested and confirmed our moderated-mediation model in two independent, multisource, multilevel field data sets of 79 mid-level leaders and 871 employees in Study 1 and 68 CEOs and 596 mid-level leaders in Study 2. We also empirically ruled out a series of alternative transfer mechanisms, including transformational and transactional leadership, leader–member exchange, and all subdimensions of transformational leadership. This research contributes to the scholarly discussions on work meaningfulness and visionary leadership and offers novel insights for practitioners to enhance work meaningfulness in their organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1287-1309
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Journal of Organizational Behavior published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • dyadic tenure
  • multilevel structural equation modeling
  • self-concept-based theory
  • visionary leadership
  • work meaningfulness


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