ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2020, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (9): 1586-1598.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2020.01586

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles    

How does power in organizations promote prosocial behavior? The mediating role of sense of responsibility

LI Xin1, LIU Pei1(), XIAO Chenjie1, WANG Xiaotian2, LI Aimei1()   

  1. 1Management School, Jinan University, Guangzhou 510632, China
    2School of Business Administration, Guangdong University of Finance & Economics, Guangzhou 510320, China
  • Received:2020-01-20 Online:2020-09-15 Published:2020-07-24
  • Contact: LIU Pei,LI Aimei;


Early research on power has provided considerable evidence for the negative effects of power on prosocial behavior and its internal mechanisms. Although an increasing number of studies have attempted to test the positive effects of power on prosocial behavior, the mechanism of this positive effect is still not clear. By reviewing and integrating the relevant literature, sense of responsibility has been identified as a critical mediator in this positive effect. In addition, individuals with high levels of power may increase their sense of responsibility because of different reasons. Given the individual's own needs, relationships with others as well as organization, we systematically figure out that need for power maintenance, perception of dependency, and organizational identification would lead to high levels of responsibility, which then triggers powerful individuals to conduct more prosocial behaviors. Moreover, we also identified potential moderators at individual level, interpersonal level, and organizational level. Future research could focus on how power results in increased sense of responsibility from various ways including exploring this relationship in Chinese culture, adopting multiple research designs beyond experimental studies, as well as manipulating interventions for helping powerful individuals increase their levels of sense of responsibility.

Key words: power, sense of responsibility, need for power maintenance, perception of dependency, organizational identification, prosocial behavior

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