Environmental-specific servant leadership as a strategic tool to accomplish environmental performance: a case of China

Ahmad Siddiquei, Fahad Asmi*, Muhammad Ali Asadullah, Farhan Mir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

22 Citations (Scopus)
486 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The Chinese firms are keenly focused on reducing their environmental footprints as part of the competitive strategy. Within the context of sustainable organizations in China, we test a multilevel framework that examined the impact of environmental-specific servant leadership on the green individual (pro-environmental behaviour) and team (project green performance) outcomes within projects. Using social identity theory, we theorize and test the mediating role of green self-identity (individual level) and team green identification (team level) in the relationships between environmental-specific servant leadership, pro-environmental behaviour, and project green performance. 
Design/methodology/approach: We used survey questionnaires to collect multi-level and multi-wave data from 42 ongoing project-based sustainable organisations in China. The multilevel team to individual-level hypothesis were analysed using multilevel-modelling via Mplus, while team level hypotheses were tested using ordinary least squares regression.

Findings: The multilevel regression analysis showed that environmental-specific servant leadership has a trickle-down effect of green self-identity, which subsequently predicts pro-environmental behaviour. The ordinary least squares regression results demonstrated that environmental-specific servant leadership predicts project green performance via team green identification. Also, environmental-specific servant leadership has a positive and direct impact on pro-environmental behaviour and project green performance.

 The study is among the first to understand the role of environmental-specific servant leadership in predicting individual and team level environment-related mediator and outcomes simultaneously. 

Research limitations/implications:
 We offer community and service dimension of leadership as a determinant of environmental performance at multiple levels. We provide managerial and policy implications to Chinese organizations striving to re-position themselves as eco-friendly organizations both nationally and globally.    

Keywords: Environmental-Specific Servant Leadership; green self-identity; team green-identification, pro-environment behaviour; project green performance; multi-level analysis; mainland China

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1161-1182
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Manpower
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 29 Sept 2021


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