Servant Leadership: A systematic review and call for future research

Nathan Eva, Mulyadi Robin, Sen Sendjaya, Dirk van Dierendonck, Robert C. Liden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

538 Citations (Scopus)


Notwithstanding the proliferation of servant leadership studies with over 100 articles published in the last four years alone, a lack of coherence and clarity around the construct has impeded its theory development. We provide an integrative and comprehensive review of the 285 articles on servant leadership spanning 20 years (1998–2018), and in so doing extend the field in four different ways. First, we provide a conceptual clarity of servant leadership vis-à-vis other value-based leadership approaches and offer a new definition of servant leadership. Second, we evaluate 16 existing measures of servant leadership in light of their respective rigor of scale construction and validation. Third, we map the theoretical and nomological network of servant leadership in relation to its antecedents, outcomes, moderators, mediators. We finally conclude by presenting a detailed future research agenda to bring the field forward encompassing both theoretical and empirical advancement. All in all, our review paints a holistic picture of where the literature has been and where it should go into the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111-132
Number of pages22
JournalLeadership Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Leader
  • Leadership
  • Literature review
  • Servant leadership
  • Systematic literature review


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