The role of basic psychological needs satisfaction in the relationship between transformational leadership and innovative work behavior

Gerhard Messmann*, A.T. Evers, Karel Kreijns

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The aim of this contribution was to investigate predictors of innovative work behavior (IWB) in nonprofit organizations.
For instance, in schools, innovative solutions are crucial as the
quality of education and therefore the schools' competitiveness
depends on their ability to keep pace with technological,
economic, and societal transformations. We addressed this
issue in a quantitative study with 130 teachers in Dutch secondary
schools employing a time-lag design. In accordance
with self-determination theory, we investigated the role of
transformational leadership for enhancing IWB and the role of
basic psychological needs satisfaction in mediating this relationship.
By employing structural equation modeling, we
found that transformational leadership was positively related
to the satisfaction of the teachers' needs for autonomy and
competence. Furthermore, the satisfaction of the need for
competence positively predicted teachers' IWB. In addition,
perceived competence fully mediated the relationship
between transformational leadership and teachers' IWB.
Accordingly, persons with leadership responsibilities should
adopt a transformational leadership style and motivate their
employees by providing individual attention, intellectual stimulation,
and encouragement for goal striving. Specifically,
leaders may provide feedback on employees' innovative ideas
and their strategies for realizing innovative solutions, thus
helping them to become increasingly confident about what they can achieve and improve concerning their contributions
to innovation development. For human resource development
(HRD) professionals, our findings imply that efforts toward
leadership training and development (e.g., training, coaching,
and mentoring) should incorporate knowledge and practical
experiences about transformational leadership as well as its
role for employees' IWB and their contributions to organizational
and professional development.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages17
JournalHuman resource development quarterly
Early online date9 Jun 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 9 Jun 2021


  • basic psychological needs satisfaction
  • innovative work behavior
  • time-lag design
  • transformational leadership


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