The role of employees' leadership perceptions, values, and motivation in employees' provenvironmental behaviors

Laura M. Graves*, Joseph Sarkis

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

132 Citations (Scopus)


Despite the importance of employees' proenvironmental behaviors (PEBs) for the success of corporate sustainability initiatives, there is limited evidence on the mechanisms that facilitate such behaviors. We address this research gap by exploring the factors that underlie employees' PEBs. Drawing on leadership and motivation theories, we develop and test a model of the factors that facilitate employees' PEBs. We focus on employees' 1) perceptions of their immediate managers' environmental transformational leadership, 2) environmental values and 3) internal and external motivation to perform PEBs. Structural equation modeling (SEM) of self-report survey data from 251 manufacturing employees found that employees who saw their managers as engaging in greater environmental transformational leadership reported higher internal and external motivation. Employees' environmental values were also positively associated with their internal and external motivation. Moreover, employees' values moderated the link between leadership and motivation; leadership perceptions were most positively related to internal motivation when employees possessed strong environmental values. Thus, environmental transformational leadership may be most effective in boosting internal motivation among employees who possess strong environmental values. Employees' internal, but not external, motivation was positively related to their self-reported PEBs, suggesting that increasing internal motivation may be particularly important to facilitating PEBs. Employees' leadership perceptions had a direct positive relationship with their self-reported PEBs. Overall, our findings reinforce the importance of immediate managers' leadership, and provide new evidence suggesting that employees' values influence their responses to that leadership. Further, internal motivation may be a key mechanism by which employees' leadership perceptions and values are linked to PEBs.

Original languageEnglish
Peer-reviewed scientific journalJournal of Cleaner Production
Issue numberSeptember
Pages (from-to)576-587
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 06.06.2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • Employee proenvironmental behaviors
  • Environmental transformational leadership
  • Environmental values
  • Employee motivation


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