Green values are a key part of the green work behaviour puzzle


Dr. Laura Graves and Dr. Joseph Sarkis study wanted to explore how leadership can affect individual motivation and lead to pro-environmental behaviours (PEB) at work. They also added the crucial factor of the individuals personal green values into the research.

Leadership at work is known to affect employees throughout many contexts. Internal motivation is the idea employees feel they should behave in a certain way (in this case PEB) and feel guilty if they do not. External motivation, in contrast, is when the driver comes from outside the individual such-as rewards at work, or to avoid some kind of sanction. Finally pro-environmental values is an obvious factor that could affect the PEB on an individual as it shows how much they care about the environment.

The study

The study used transformational leadership theory, motivational theories around internal vs external motivation, and the effect of green values on the relationship between leadership, motivation and PEB at work. By testing if leadership affects individual behaviour, and whether the values and motivational states of the employee affects this relationship, they attempt to clarify some of the nuance around pro-environmental behaviours at work.

What did they find?

They found that transformational leadership did affect PEB at work. This relationship was particularly strong when employees had higher environmental values and internal motivation. Internal motivation, but not external, was positively associated with PEB which suggests that internal motivation is important in this area. This makes sense alongside the environmental values, which are a potential internal driver affecting motivation to act.

What does this mean?

This finding shows us that managers can affect the extent of employees PEB at work. This is especially strong if employees have pro-environmental values and intrinsic motivation. Organisations wanting to promote PEB in their employees should foster internal motivation in employees. It also can be seen that internal motivated employees are very strongly associated with pro-environmental values. This implies that individuals with these values are likely to be intrinsically motivated.

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