Transformational leadership and project team members' silence: the mediating role of feeling trusted
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Managing Projects in Business. 2019, 12 (4), 845-868. 10.1108/IJMPB-04-2018-0090
Silencing behavior among project team members (PTM) poses a potential threat to project results. Hence, breaking silence in projects is critical to motivate team members and beneficial for project outcomes. The purpose of this paper is to examine the relationship between transformational leadership (TL) of project manager (PM) and silence behavior of PTMs. It proposes a mediating role of feeling trusted (FT) to fill this gap by conducting an empirical research. A theoretical model was developed and a series of hypotheses were proposed based on existing literature. Then, regression analysis was conducted on a sample of 219 team members of a diverse set of projects in China. The paper empirically shows that TL of PM is significantly negatively related to team members’ defensive and prosocial silence (PS), but not with their acquiescence silence. In addition, the study also discovered that team members’ FT mediates the effects of TL on team members’ defensive and PS. This study contributed to the project management literature by showing that feeling trusted link the relationship between TL of PM and PTMs’ silence. The studies’ findings also contribute to the silence theory in project context through discussions of the rationale behind the main effects. Practical implication is provided for PMs that making the most of TL can reduce the silence of PTM, through building trusted feelings. The limitation to this study is the research setting regarding culture-related issues that focused only on projects in China. This research is one of the early studies that address the issue of silence behavior in project context, which is a contribution to the coordination and communication in project management.