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The Impact of Servant Leadership on Hotel Employees' "Servant Behavior"

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Cornell Hospitality Quarterly

Published online on


This study examined the link between servant leadership and hotel employees’ customer-oriented organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) by focusing on the mediating role of leader–member exchange (LMX) and the moderating role of followers’ sensitivity to others’ favorable treatment. Using time-lagged data from 304 supervisor–follower pairs in nineteen hotels in China, we found that servant leadership positively influenced customer-oriented OCB, and this influence was mediated by LMX. In addition, moderated path analysis indicated that employees’ sensitivity to others’ favorable treatment strengthened the direct effect of servant leadership on LMX and its indirect effect on customer-oriented OCB. This study extends the scope of servant leadership research and provides evidence for arguments that servant leadership matters in the hospitality industry. The study also demonstrates the importance of LMX to the relationship between managers and employees, through findings that are strengthened by a longitudinal design.