Examination of the Relationship between Servant Leadership and Agency Problems: Gender Matters

John Politis, Denis Politis

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    231 Downloads (Pure)


    Purpose: The paper examines the relationship between servant leadership and agency problems. Also, it seeks to determine whether gender plays a role in this relationship.

    Design/methodology/approach: A survey of 276 employees was carried out to investigate the relationship between the characteristics of servant leadership and the constructs of agency problems of thirty six male and twenty two female managers/supervisors in the banking sector months before the financial crisis in Cyprus. The responses were subjected to a series of correlational and structural equation modelling analyses.

    Findings: The study revealed three major findings. Firstly, the relationship between servant leadership behaviour and agency problems is near zero and not significant. Secondly, the servant leadership behaviour of female managers/supervisors brings the desired negative influence on the constructs of agency problems. Finally, the servant leadership behaviour of males has a more positive and significant influence on agency problems than that of females. These findings should be interpreted with caution, because more female than male participants rated the male managers/supervisors, and salient traits might cause followers to feel that female managers display more servant leadership characteristics, regardless of whether they exhibit them or not.

    Research limitations/implications: The conclusions cannot be generalised because the research was conducted in a country undergoing a financial crisis. However, this study provides a springboard to further explore whether the findings are valid if the sample is taken from a country not facing financial crisis, and if an equal number of male and female participants involved in rating male managers/supervisors.

    Practical implications: These findings provide evidence that servant leadership is not a gender-neutral ethical construct, and practitioners should focus to develop or recruit managers who possess an ethic of care that could bring the desired negative outcome on the constructs of agency problems.

    Originality/value: This is the first study empirically investigating the agency problems – ethical leadership relationship in Cyprus. Moreover, the potential role played by gender for the aforementioned relationship was empirically examined.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)170-185
    Number of pages16
    JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2018


    Dive into the research topics of 'Examination of the Relationship between Servant Leadership and Agency Problems: Gender Matters'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this