Date of Conferral

2014

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Public Policy and Administration

Advisor

Mark Gordon

Abstract

Transformational leadership and employee engagement have been studied in the private sector, yet research in the nonprofit sector is scarce. Addressing this gap is important to improve nonprofit practices, as nonprofit organizations contribute to a myriad of social issues critical to positive social change. Using Burns's theory of transformational leadership, which places emphasis on motivating and inspiring performance through a shared vision and mission, the purpose of this quantitative study was to analyze the effects of transformational leadership on employee engagement in nonprofit organizations. The study also assessed whether locus of control acted as a mediating variable on employee engagement. Locus of control may explain differences in the effect of transformational leadership on engagement in those with an internal locus of control (self-motivating-lesser effect) versus an external locus of control (motivated by external forces-greater effect). Data were obtained from emailed surveys of employees of 30 nonprofit organizations (N = 155). The surveys consisted of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, the Utrecht Work Engagement Scale, and the Work Locus of Control Scale. Multiple logistic regression revealed a significant positive relationship between transformational leadership and employee engagement. No significant evidence was found to indicate that locus of control acted as a mediating variable with regard to engagement. Understanding the effect of transformational leadership on employee engagement may enable nonprofit organizations to improve their effectiveness in programs and services, thereby contributing to positive social change.