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Servant Versus Authentic Leadership: Assessing Effectiveness in Chinas Hospitality Industry

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Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


This study compares the effectiveness of servant versus authentic leadership in hospitality firms by examining relationships with group-level trust and individual-level work outcomes (i.e., organizational commitment, work engagement, and work performance), and their influencing mechanisms through trust climate. Using two-wave data from 1,132 employee–supervisor pairs from 80 departments in 16 star-level hotels in China, we find that these two forms of leadership have positive effects on group trust climate and employee work outcomes; however, the magnitudes and paths of their effects are distinct. In comparison with authentic leadership, servant leadership has a more significant effect on creating a trust climate and a more direct effect regarding increasing employees’ positive work attitudes (i.e., organizational commitment and work engagement), ultimately influencing work performance. This study also demonstrates the importance of group trust climate in relationships between group-level leadership and individual-level employee work attitudes and performance. These findings extend the scope of servant and authentic leadership research, and advocate servant leadership in the hospitality industry.