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Leaders’ achievement goals predict employee burnout above and beyond employees’ own achievement goals

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Roy Sijbom, Jonas W. B. Lang, Frederik Jacques C Anseel

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)702-714
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Personality
Issue number3
Early online date3 Aug 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2019


King's Authors


Objective: Burnout has primarily been examined from an individual’s perspective without taking the broader environmental context into account. The authors applied an integrative multilevel perspective and investigated the influence of leaders’ motivational strivings on employee burnout. In two multi-source studies, we investigated relationships between leaders’ achievement goals and employee burnout while controlling for employees’ own achievement goals.
Method: Study 1 consisted of 362 members and 72 leaders of the corresponding working groups. Study 2 consisted of 177 employees and 46 leaders of the corresponding working groups, and measurements were spaced apart in time. We also ran a model including the data of both Study 1 and Study 2.
Results: Multilevel analyses indicated that leaders’ mastery-approach goals were negatively related to employee burnout above and beyond employees’ own achievement goals. Leaders’ performance-approach goals were positively related to employee burnout in Study 1 and in the overall analysis combining Study 1 and Study 2.
Conclusion: We advance our understanding of the motivational etiology of burnout by examining the top-down effects of leaders’ achievement goals on employee burnout over and above employees’ own achievement goals. In order to reduce burnout, organizations should take leaders’ achievement goals into account as an important contextual factor.

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