Dyadic support exchange and work engagement: An episodic test and expansion of self-determination theory

Marijntje E.L. Zeijen, Paraskevas Petrou, Arnold B. Bakker, Benjamin R. van Gelderen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


According to the self-determination theory (SDT), individuals flourish when they satisfy their psychological needs. We expand this proposition by testing whether employees satisfy their own needs and improve their own work engagement by providing support to their co-workers. Moreover, we argue that it matters when and to whom the support is provided. We contend that the indirect effect of autonomously motivated support provision on the provider’s work engagement through the provider’s need satisfaction is stronger (1) during episodes that the receiver’s emotional demands are high (vs. low), (2) when the receiver’s learning goal orientation is high (vs. low), or (3) when the receiver’s prove performance goal orientation is low (vs. high). We collected data among 97 dyads of police officers (N = 194 participants) during two time blocks on one working day (N = 227–491 episodes). Multi-level analyses confirmed that support provision related positively to the provider’s episodic work engagement through episodic need satisfaction. As hypothesized, this indirect relationship was stronger during emotionally demanding episodes, or when the receiver was characterized by a low prove performance goal orientation. Learning goal orientation did not moderate the support provision–work engagement relationship. These findings expand SDT by indicating that individuals satisfy their own daily needs by providing support, and by showing that it matters when and to whom support is provided. Practitioner points: Providing help benefits both the beneficiary and the helper Managers should encourage the daily exchange of social resources between employees The exchange of social support between co-workers is crucial when employees face demanding clients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-711
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


  • autonomous motivation
  • goal orientation
  • prosocial behaviour
  • self-determination theory
  • work engagement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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