Saint Mary’s PhD thesis research recognized with international award

Aleka MacLellan

Aleka MacLellan

Saint Mary’s University is proud to announce that recent PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology graduate Aleka MacLellan has received the 2017 Kenneth E. Clark Student Research Award from the Center for Creative Leadership and the International Leadership Association. This prestigious award honours MacLellan’s doctoral thesis in leadership psychology, “The Role of Leaders in Motivating their Subordinates at Work.”   

“To have my PhD dissertation selected from among submissions from six countries across the world is an honour,” says Dr. Aleka MacLellan. “It also shows that research conducted at Saint Mary’s University is making an impact globally, as well as in Canada.” 

While there is substantial research on the importance of motivation in the workplace, little is known about how to change motivation. MacLellan’s thesis examines whether leaders’ personal levels of motivation and style of leadership affect employee motivation in the workplace. Her findings indicate that motivational effects often attributed to transformational leadership may instead be the result of a “motivation contagion” effect.

“Aleka's research brings a rigourous research methodology to bear on a question that is of both theoretical and practical importance. How leaders can inspire and motivate others is a critical question for organizations and Aleka's research brings us much closer to the answer to that question,” says MacLellan’s doctoral thesis supervisor Dr. E. Kevin Kelloway, Canada Research Chair in Occupational Health Psychology, and Professor in the Department of Psychology, Saint Mary’s University.

MacLellan is grateful to Cystic Fibrosis Canada, an organization she previously volunteered and consulted for, for supporting her research. By allowing her to collect data during the first and second year of her PhD program, she was able to defend her PhD dissertation in less than three years.

MacLellan would also like to acknowledge the support of Dr. Anja Van den Broeck of the Research Centre for Work and Organization Studies (WOS Bxl), whom she collaborated with during two research semesters spent at the University of Leuven in Brussels, Belgium.

MacLellan recently started a position at Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge, a consulting firm in Toronto, Ontario.

“Given that my areas of focus are in leadership assessment for the purpose of selection, succession planning, and development—as well as team effectiveness and organization culture—it is very important to consider the role leaders have on their team members,” says MacLellan. “I look forward to addressing this challenge in my new role as a Talent & Leadership Development Consultant.”

In October, MacLellan will return to Brussels to present her award-winning research at the International Leadership Association Global Conference.

About the Kenneth E. Clark Award

The Kenneth E. Clark Award from the International Leadership Association (ILA) and the Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) recognizes outstanding unpublished papers by undergraduate and graduate students.

Winners of the award receive a cash prize; travel, accommodation, and registration to ILA’s Annual Conference; a complimentary 1-year membership in the ILA; and recognition at the ILA conference and in various multi-media ILA publications.