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Helping as a Means to Empower or Create Reliance: Leaders' Social Hierarchical Motivations Predict Helping Behaviors
Prosocial organizational behaviors such as interpersonal helping are desirable, as it increases organizational effectiveness and engenders positive outcomes for both the help providers and recipients. However, helping can also be strategic and a means to create dependency (by providing dependency help: fixing a problem for someone) rather than a way to empower others (by providing autonomy help: teaching someone how to fix a problem). To date, little research has explored predictors of such help-giving behaviors by leaders in the workplace. We propose that leaders associated with dominance, i.e., those who are seen as assertive and commanding, offer dependency help. In contrast, leaders associated with prestige, i.e. those who value sharing knowledge and skills, provide autonomy help. We further examine the mediating role of leaders’ role conceptualization and the moderating role of time pressure in explaining our effects. We test our hypotheses using a combination of experimental and field studies.