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The transfer model of organizational identification (OI) posits a trickle-down process of OI from leaders to followers. This, in turn, should foster employees’ willingness to engage in extra-role behaviour. Prior research has provided consistent support for the model in field studies and experimental settings. The present studies extend the OI transfer model by examining the mediating role of transformational leadership (TFL) behaviour in the leader OI-follower OI link. Using a multi-level, multi-source approach we tested our model in two studies. Study 1 was conducted in Germany (N= 18 leaders and 216 employees) and provided support for the proposed mediation process. In a second Study, which was conducted in China (N= 44 leaders and 109 followers), we were able to replicate and extend these findings. Again, leader behaviour mediated the link between leader OI and employee OI. Additionally, we found that leader transformational behaviour and employee OI together mediated the link between leader OI and employee extra-role efforts.

Practitioner Points

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    Given that organizations are generally structured in a pyramid-shaped form, the present findings suggest that leader OI can be highly leveraged since it appears to cascade down the organizational hierarchy.
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    Hence, measures fostering leader OI appear to be effective and efficient means to increase followers’ identification with the organization. Follower OI, in turn, positively relates to employee extra-effort on behalf of the organization.
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    Furthermore, our findings suggest that this transfer of OI is not restricted to leader-follower links in western, individualistic societies but also applies to China, characterized by more collectivistic values.