Leadership and Leadership Quality - Paper Example

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University of Richmond
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Chapter 3:  Methodology: Summary of Empirical Study

This chapter summarizes and reviews past empirical studies that have examined problems for this study, with a focus on the methodology they used. Through a review of research methods and approaches in the studies, the researcher will draw methodological insights for the present research. There are three methodological problems/areas for this study, which arises from the variables of the study  and the aims of the present study.  The first problem is how to operationalise or measure leadership quality (the independent variable for the study) at the director level, so that it may be statistically applied to examine its effect on organizational culture.  A second aspect is how to deal with leadership culture, more so how to operationalize it within the context of the study. The last empirical issue is how to establish the association between leadership quality and organizational culture, particularly within the context in which these variables operationalised in the study. While giving the summary of empirical studies, the study will also point on the empirical tools and methods it will borrow from the past empirical studies.

2.1 Leadership and Leadership Quality

As noted in the previous chapter, there is no consistent method universally accepted as an indicator or parameter for measuring leadership quality. The studies reviewed in the previous chapter judges leadership quality regarding: the leaders' behavior (Carr and Tomasco, 2010), leadership styles (Bodla and Nawaz, 2010; Latham, 2014), and leadership outcome about the stakeholder values (Latham, 2014). A study by Latham (2014) takes an integrated approach to measuring leadership. Lathams model is preferred in this study considering that it integrates multiple dimensions which have been separately covered in the pre-existing studies, therefore offering an in-depth and multi-dimensional perspective to leadership.

Leadership Quality as Mix of Style and System that Generates Value

According to Latham (2014), leadership quality is a variable that is made of two interacting variables: behaviors (the style) and activities (the system) that interact to yield required organizational system, culture systems and influence on followers in the intermediate term. In the long run, leadership quality is judged by their outcome, and specifically the ability to yield value for the stakeholders.

Implicit within Lathams work is the position that leadership is a factor that interrelates with the organizational culture. The leader's behavior and activities should be structured to generate an organizational culture that spurs quality and innovation, and ultimately generation of value for the shareholders. Proceeding from Lathams framework, the separate components and how they have been measured can be evaluated as follows.

Leadership quality as Leadership Style: Transactional vs. Transformational Leadership

Leadership quality regarding leadership styles often falls on three stylistic aspects: transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership. As explained in the previous chapter, transformational leadership strives to change people and transform the organisation, through transforming human values, emotions, standards and long-term goals as well as striving to meet the individual needs of individuals in an organization (Northouse, 2010). Transformational leaders will seek to stimulate the followers to support reforms and achieve the target tasks. Transactional leadership, on the other hand, is characterized by the exchange of values and interest as the basis of leader-follower relationship in a task-focused manner. While the leader may attend to the follower's individual needs, it is not for the benefit of the followers' development but as a way of advancing the leaders development agenda (Northouse,2010). Leissez-faire as a leadership approach entails giving the followers a free hand in decision making, and the leader does not often take part in decision making, particularly when significant issues arise (it is characterized by avoidant leadership behavior (Bass and Avolio, 2004). A major issue for empirical studies is how these leadership dimensions may be measured to establish the leadership style a leader employs.

The majority of studies in leadership have measured these aspects of style using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) originally developed by Bass (Bass & Avolio, 1989; 1992; 2004). Bass and Avolios MLQ has undergone updates overtime, with more recent updates introducing more factors and questions. The initial MLQ (Bass & Avolio, 1989) had a total of 40 items (questions) capturing various factors for each of the leadership dimensions. Transformational leadership had a total of 24 items testing on four leadership factors, namely: charisma, inspiration, individual consideration and intellectual stimulation. Among these factors, charisma had the highest number of items (12), while the rest of the factors had four items each. Transactional leadership style, on the other hand, had a total of 12 leadership items divided into four leadership factors, namely: contingent reward, active management by exception and passive management by exception. The last leadership model, namely laissez-faire had the least number of items (only 12). The table below summarizes the content of the three leadership dimensions

In their subsequent study, Bass and Avolio (2004) sought to test if their MLQ reliably measured leadership factors across the organisation. However, the 2004 version was adjusted to include two more factors, namely: idealized influence behaviors (IIB) and idealized influence attributed (IIA). These two factors are associated with transformational leadership. Another adjustment with the 2004 MLQ is that the items for each factor have been reduced to four, resulting in a scale of 36 items. The consistency and reliability of the MLQ scale make it useful for research on leadership styles and quality. Using nine datasets, the researchers established that they reliably measured the datasets (given high factor loadings and internal consistency). Other independent studies (Antonakis, 2001; Pham & Pillay, 2014) have also confirmed the validity of MLQ scale. Antonakis (2001), for instance, used a large sample size (N=6525) drawn from 18 independent studies drawn from different cultures. The outcome of the study affirmed that Bass and Avolios (1998) leadership factors reliably represented leadership in the sampled organization, evident from high factor loadings and high internal consistencies. In a recent study, Pham and Pillay (2014) applied MLQ to investigate on the leadership style among Vietnamese Higher Education (HE) , drawing a sample population of 207 senior managers from Vietnamese HE institutions. These participants were asked to give response on their experiences in leadership within the context of factors in MLQ suggested by Bass and Avolio (2004). Again, confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) conducted in the study revealed a high level of reliability and validity to all the nine-factor model of leadership proposed in Bass and Avolios (2004) framework.

In a scenario where the MLQ is to be used to assess leadership quality, the participants need to be asked to fill in each of the leadership items, and their scale assessed. Each item is measured in a 5-point likert scale starting from 0 to 4, where increasing score points towards increasing strength of the respective leadership style. Bass and Avolios (2004) have developed benchmarks for judging the outcome. Below is an excerpt from Bass and Avolios scale indicating the research validated benchmarks.

In relation to studies carried out within the Middle East, Alsayed et al. (2014) uses the MLQ scale to determine the leadership behaviour and quality in among Pakistani leaders. They establish that the scales internal validity is high and that it can be adapted to be used effectively in studies within Arabian region. Another crucial insights from this study is that researcher need not to use all the components of the scale. In their case, they deleted a total of five items, 1 from laissez-faire and transformational style subscale after they failed to meet the internal validity tests. Given the cultural similarity if Pakistan and UAE, in can be inferred from Alsayed et al. (2014) study that the scale is usable in the UAE. In light of the overwhelming research validation of Bass and Avolios (1989; 2004) MLQ, this study will adopt it to measure the leadership quality at the director level in aesthetic companies in the UAE. A multi-factor questionnaire touching on the seven leadership factors in the scale will be prepared and disseminated to 400 participants (200 employees and 200 leaders) so as to examine the leadership quality within the model developed by Bass and Avolio.

Leadership Quality: Attributes and Activities

In a study, Carr and Tomasco (2010) views leadership quality regarding the leader's capabilities and activities. High lightship quality promotes organizational success. The use a cross-national data (60 nations) focusing on 33 industries and a total of 1,500 leaders from the corporate and public sector. The study generates nine attributes of leadership quality, topped by the following: creativity, integrity m global thinking and influence rank highest in descending order (see figure below).

In regards to activities of a leader, the study finds that effective leaders show to focus on several major areas of an organisation lead by the customer oriented thinking, focus on people skills, as insights and intelligence, enterprise changes, risk management, industry model changes and revenue model changes. Even though Carr and Tomasco (2010) elements of leadership quality have strong empirical backing, based on large sample size and cross-national nature of the study, it may not be suitable for this study because it drew its data from large multinational corporations. The researcher anticipates that much of the data will be drawn from small and medium-sized enterprises. The structural differences make Carr and Tomascos (2010) work less suitable. Further, the companies in the study by Carr and Tomasco (2010) were drawn from North America and the Europe. The cultural differences between those regions and the Middle East may make them less desirable. Finally, the study has not been subject to further empirical review to ascertain internal consistencies and internal validity of the components of leadership quality suggested by the researchers, making it less desirable.

3.2 Organisational Culture

The measurement of organizational culture has remained a challenge in the past studies, given that the definition of culture or organizational culture is itself a point of controversy. The measure adopted will depend on how the researcher views organizational culture. Three perspectives that shape measurement of organizational culture emerge, namely: artifacts, values or underlying assumptions. As artifacts, one may view organizational culture concerning organizational ceremonies, rites, symbols, rituals or stories (Trice et al., 1984). As values, organizational culture may be viewed regarding social consensus, standards, ideals, and principles that an organization upholds. On the other hand, organizational culture may be considered regarding the basic assumptions that are held in the organization, and which will usually be passed over to the new members who join the organiz...

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