Defense Date

Spring 3-7-2017

Degree Type





Business Administration

Chair or Co-Chair

Dr. Brian N. Rutherford

Committee Member or Co-Chair

Dr. Fernando Jaramillo


Dr. Joe Hair


Employee engagement is vital to organizations because of its relationship with performance and retention. Specifically, salespeople, as boundary spanners, pose unique challenges to organizations. To date, the literature has given limited attention to salesperson engagement. This study explores the assertion that managers are the primary source of employee disengagement by examining the perceptions salespeople have of their sales manager and how their perceptions influence salesperson engagement. Salesperson perceptions are the focus of this study because what one perceives is one’s reality.

Job-Demands Resource (J-DR) theory was used as the theoretical framework to investigate the relationships in the proposed model. First, this study examines the relationship between how salespeople perceive their sales manager’s dispositional traits (extroversion/introversion and other/self-orientation) influence the perception of their sales manager’s leadership orientation. Building upon recent work by Grisaffe, VanMeter, and Chonko (2016) on hierarchical servant leadership, the study explores if servant leadership, a higher form of leadership, has the greatest impact on salesperson engagement. Additionally, to provide more context, the impact of market dynamism and ethical climate on the perceived sales manager leadership-salesperson engagement relationship was explored. Lastly, how salesperson engagement impacts performance (in-role and extra-role) and turnover intention was evaluated. This study contributes to sales management literature by adding to servant leadership research and providing empirical insights into salesperson engagement, which is characterized by vigor, dedication, and absorption.

The research objectives were accomplished through an online quantitative survey administered by Qualtrics. The total sample was 208 US business-to-business salespeople. Given the complexity of the proposed model, the investigative nature of the research, the relatively small sample size, and the focus on prediction, the proposed relationships were examined using PLS-SEM.