Doreen Hanke

Publication Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in International Business Administration (Ph.D.-IB)

Committee Member

Mayfield, Milton R.

Committee Member

Kock, Nereu F.

Committee Member

Wang, Haibo


This study builds upon the leadership, leadership communication, and organizational behavior literature to examine the effects of peer motivating language on employee outcomes. Despite the increasing interest in examining the relationships between leader motivating language and employee attitudes and behaviors, the effects of peer motivating language on such remain unexplored. Researchers Mayfield and Mayfield (2017) are calling for moving beyond ML as a dyadic, leader communication model to research on peer-to-peer motivating language. Moreover, leadership studies started placing greater emphasis on followers to avoid a possible unproductive overemphasis on the leader in an organization. In line with this move is the substitutes for leadership theory. Researchers are calling for the theorizing of further substitutes (Dionne et al., 2005; Jermier & Kerr, 1997). Given these existing research needs, the purpose of this study is three-fold. I first propose, validate a scale for, and test a new construct called peer motivating language. Second, I develop and test a model that highlights the comprehensive nature of both leader and peer motivating language and employee outcomes, incorporating peer motivating language as a possible new substitute for leadership variable. Specifically, my study examines the questions of whether employee outcomes can be affected through motivating language use among peers, and if these peers, therefore may substitute or weaken the need for a leader’s use of motivating language. Therefore, I study motivating language theory from a follower perspective to shed light on the often too narrowly focused leader-centric approaches to leadership and leadership communication. Third, I examine the generalizability of my presented model by testing it in two different countries: the USA and India. The final sample to test my model consisted of 545 respondents from the United States and 511 respondents from India. The results of the study substantiate the validity of the peer ML construct. The findings show that peers’ use of motivating language in organizations has the potential to positively influence employee attitudes and behaviors and serves as a substitute for such communication style coming from a leader. The cross-national investigation of this study presents that these relationships may differ depending on the national setting, i.e. while peer ML serves as a substitute variable for leader ML for the Indian sample, it does not for the U.S. sample. Several theoretical and practical implications as well as limitations and direction for future research are discussed.