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Drawing from the transactional theory of stress, we examined the relationships between authoritarian leadership, fear, defensive silence, and ultimately employee creativity. We also explored the moderating effect of employee psychological capital on these mediated relationships. We tested our hypothesized model in two studies of employee-supervisor dyads working in Africa (Nigeria; Study 1) and Asia (China; Study 2). The results of Study 1 revealed that the negative relationship between authoritarian leadership and creativity was mediated by employee defensive silence. Extending these findings in a three-wave study in Study 2, our results revealed a more complex relationship. Specifically, our results showed that both fear and defensive silence serially mediated the link between authoritarian leadership and employee creativity. In addition, we found that this mediated relationship was moderated by employee psychological capital such that the relationship was stronger when psychological capital was low (versus high). Implications for both theory and practice are discussed.


Centre for Sustainable HRM and Wellbeing

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Journal Article

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