Talk nerdy to me: The role of intellectual stimulation in the supervisor-employee relationship.

Document Type


Publication Title

Journal of Health and Human Services Administration


This study investigates (1) if communication with one's supervisor is related to empowerment through establishing perceptions of leader integrity, and (2) the extent to which the relationship between leader integrity and empowerment is moderated by intellectual stimulation. Due to the dynamic nature of today's organizational environment, understanding the nuances among these variables is vital to effective performance at the individual and organizational level. Hierarchical multiple regression tests were performed with a sample of 259 nurses in two regional healthcare facilities in the Midwestern United States. The results support a moderated-mediation relationship such that open communication with one's supervisor is positively related to empowerment through perceptions of leader integrity, but the relationship between leader integrity and empowerment varies across levels of intellectual stimulation. Specifically, while supervisor integrity mediates the relationship between patient safety communication and empowerment, this mediated relationship is only significant for followers who experience high intellectual stimulation, and is not significant for followers who report low intellectual stimulation. Thus, open communication and leader integrity will only empower followers if the leader is intellectually stimulating. This research clarifies how leaders in health care environments should communicate with their followers to empower them to think and act by their own initiative. Specifically, followers who communicate openly with their supervisor will feel more empowered, but only if they experience high intellectual stimulation which can improve their job performance and patient safety overall.

Publication Date

Spring 2016