Implicit leadership theories, leader-member exchange and its workplace outcomes: a case of South African call centre agents

Jansen, Althea
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The purpose of this research is to investigate the role of implicit leadership theories (ILTs) in leader-member exchanges (LMX) and the association of these leadership variables on employee outcomes, customer service orientation and turnover intentions. The specific context for this study is call centres. The growth in the call centre industry has warranted an investigation into variables that lead to their success. With an increased focus on retaining satisfied customers, the need to understand the factors that lead to this is emphasised. The importance of leadership and its impact on the success of organisations is often accentuated in the literature This research aimed to gain a better understanding of the variables which affect the success of call centres from a leadership perspective. The effect of leadership and specifically leader- member exchange - on employee and organisational outcomes is studied. These outcomes include job satisfaction, commitment, psychological empowerment, turnover intentions and customer orientation. The effect of implicit leadership theories (ILTs) on LMX was also assessed. This research was conducted in the South African call centre context. The target population was defined as call centre agents in the Gauteng region. 192 call centre agents from various call centres formed part of the sample. Data was gathered using self-report questionnaires. The questionnaire was administered in two parts and once all the data was collected, the relationships were tested using structural equation modelling in the SAS 9.3 statistical program. Various other tests were conducted, including tests for reliability and validity. Cronbach alphas were calculated in order to confirm the reliability of the variables. A confirmatory factor analysis was conducted in order to confirm validity. Furthermore, correlation analysis iv and path analysis was conducted to ascertain the significance of the relationships identified. LMX and psychological empowerment were found to be central in this research, having the greatest impact on the outcome variables studied; turnover intentions and customer orientation. Important recommendations for further research include the assessment of a more balance mix of in-bound and out-bound call centres since differences may exist and this research was predominantly comprised of in-bound call centres. With one of the most significant paths identified being psychological empowerment to employee customer orientation, the findings suggest that call centre managers may need to consider the long term effects of psychological empowerment on employee customer orientation and turnover intentions. The cost involved with employees leaving the organisation or losing dissatisfied customers may warrant an initiative to empower call centre agents. The use of self-managed teams may be one way to achieve this. Leaders were also found to play a central role in the outcomes studied in this research. In this regard, leaders should also go on extensive training programmes on how to deal with individual employees and on establishing good relationships with them. Managers could get peer reviews of leaders to understand where and if any problems exist. The use of team building exercises may also assist in developing good, high quality LMX relationships.
Thesis M.Com. (Human Resources Management))--University of the Witwatersrand, School of Economic and Business Sciences, 2014.
Call centres, Customer service orientation, Leadership, Leader member excahnge, Psychological empowerment, Job satisfaction, Turnover intentions