The Threshold Effect of Participative Leadership and the Role of Leader Information Sharing

Catherine K. Lam, Xu Huang, Simon C. H. Chan

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on implicit leadership theory (Brown & Lord, 2001; Eden & Leviatan, 1975), we hypothesize that the relationship between participative leadership and employee performance is curvilinear (J-shaped), suggesting that participative leadership is unrelated to employee performance when participative leadership is below a moderate level (i.e., a threshold). Above this threshold, increased participative leadership is related to higher employee performance. Building on adaptive resonance theory (Grossberg, 1999), a variant of implicit leadership theory, we further hypothesize that leaders' information-sharing behavior will moderate this curvilinear relationship. We test this model using two independent samples: office and call-center employees (Study 1) and factory workers (Study 2). Results from Study 1 reveal that this curvilinear relationship is stronger when leaders' information sharing is high and weaker when information sharing is low. Furthermore, in Study 2, we find that leadership effectiveness mediates the interactive effect of participative leadership and information sharing on objective work performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-855
Number of pages20
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015
Externally publishedYes

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

User-Defined Keywords

  • leadership effectiveness
  • implicit leadership theory
  • participative leadership
  • performance


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