Stewardship: Theoretical Development and Empirical Test of its Determinants
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The long-term success and survival of corporations depends on the stewardship of its organizational actors. With a special focus on leadership, this dissertation explores the various relational and motivational factors that affect stewardship behaviors in organizations. The central goals of this research are to theoretically develop the construct of stewardship, explore a set of possible antecedents, and empirically test these determinants to generate a descriptive behavioral science model of stewardship in organizations. I conceptualize stewardship as an outcome of leadership behaviors that place the long-term best interests of the stockholders and other stakeholders ahead of a leader's self-interest. Building upon the themes presented in the stewardship literature, such as identification and intrinsic motivation, and drawing from other research streams to include factors such as interpersonal and institutional trust and moral courage, I put forth a behavioral leadership model of stewardship. Within this model, I argue that issues of psychological ownership and power in the organizational context are central to stewardship concerns. Additionally, I present two empirical tests of the stewardship framework; the first is a field survey study, designed to explore the naturally occurring relationships between relevant constructs in the organization, and the second is a controlled experiment, designed to refine the test of these relationships. Together, the results from these studies suggest that motivational support and moral courage are central antecedents of stewardship. Specifically, relational and motivational support directly influence moral courage; relational support also influences moral courage indirectly through its joint effect with contextual support on motivational support. Counter to predictions, contextual support is found to have a direct negative influence on moral courage. The argument is made that contextually supportive leadership behaviors that foster a sense of belonging and organizational identification in followers may be responsible for a type of moral social loafing. The implications of this phenomenon are discussed. I conclude by discussing the implications if this research at the individual, organizational, and societal level, putting forth future avenues of study for stewardship research.
DepartmentFuqua School of Business
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