Motivation to serve: a quantitative examination of servant leadership in turbulent times

Ijeoma G. Ukeni, Shelley Harrington, Kae Reynolds

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
63 Downloads (Pure)


Servant leadership (SL) is generally viewed as a follower-centric theory of leadership. Scholars and proponents of the theory have asserted that prioritizing followers’ interests on the part of the servant leader helps foster the desire in followers to become servant leaders themselves. This aspect of SL may be valuable to organisations due to SL being linked empirically to a range of organisational outcomes, including increased productivity and organisational support (need citations here). Most studies, however, have focused exclusively on the behaviours and desire to serve of leaders and not followers. This paper leans on the work of Ng, Koh and Goh (2008), who designed a motivation to serve (MTS) construct for servant leadership. In this study, Ng et al.’s instrument proved useful for investigating MTL as a motivational antecedent of SL and further facilitated examining the largely neglected population of followers in the SL process. The design employed an extended version of Ng et al.’s MTS scale by including two measures designed to explicitly assess followers’ MTS and perceptions of their leaders as role models. The extended version of the MTS scale was validated accordingly using quantitative data from 208 UK employees across private and public sectors. The results contribute to the expansion of one of the most robust multidimensional scales for SL, namely van Dierendonck and Nuijten (2011) and provide evidence to demonstrate how the relationship of SL to resilience plays a significant role in enhancing followers’ desire to serve. This paper, therefore, sheds new light on the impact SL can have in contemporary organisations by virtue of the servant leader’s contribution toward creating successful and resilient talent development strategies. Furthermore, we provide grounds for application to today’s increasingly dynamic and turbulent business environment based on the current context of Brexit and using antibodies as an extended metaphor.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Oct 2019
EventAcademy of International Business US Northeast 2019 Conference: Disrupt or be Disrupted - Rutgers University, Newark, United States
Duration: 11 Oct 201912 Oct 2019


ConferenceAcademy of International Business US Northeast 2019 Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Servant Leadership
  • Motivation to serve


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