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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Leadership style and organizational climate : a longitudinal study Young, David Robert


The essential problem considered in the thesis is the causal relationship between leadership style and organizational climate. Though there have been correlational studies among leadership and climate variables, there has been little if any satisfactory work to verify the presumption that leadership style is causally linked to organizational climate. The investigation made use of a questionnaire including both leadership style (LBDQ, Initiation of Structure (IS) and Consideration (C)) items and organizational climate items (derived from The human organization. Likert, 1967) which was distributed at two times approximately 120 days apart. The survey also included a suggestion-box questionnaire which was to be used by the company to evaluate many aspects of employee concern. The results of the general survey were to be distributed to all participants and the study was also to evaluate changes in climate that may have resulted from such feedback. The study was conducted in three departments of a large engineering consulting firm which has a task-force structure. One department was not given the general survey or feedback in order to act as a control group with respect to the check on induced change through feedback. The first survey was used to check upon the static relationships between style and climate (both a priori and factor analytic) dimensions. Multiple regression analyses were used. The major tool to examine the causal relationship was cross-lagged correlational panels along with dynamic correlations. Also used were multiple regression techniques with Time 1 climate dimensions independent and Time 2 leadership dimensions dependent for paired data only. The climate item results were also factor analysed for comparison with a priori dimensions as well as comparison with a factor analysis of data from another source (Likert, 1967). The results provided only weak support of a change in climate resulting from feedback of survey results. There were several instances where significant relationships between climate and leadership were found. For the factor climate dimensions the most significant relationships were as follows: project leader IS - interaction-warmth - goal congruence project leader C - interaction-warmth - performance and control communications department head IS - performance and control - communications - goal congruence department head C - interaction-warmth - confidence-participation - goal congruence Both the cross-lagged correlational panel criteria and regression results pointed to the most significant relationships between Time 1 climate and Time 2 leadership as follows: department head IS - confidence-participation - locus of decision making - presence of informal organization - performance and control communications department head C - upward communications - confidence-participation These results completely contradicted the results expected from the hypotheses on causal linkages and, there was no indication of support for the hypothesis for any combination of style and climate dimensions. The comparison of factor analyses on study data and Likert data led to conclusions concerning the possible difference in orientation or mental set of employees in one type of organization and managers in another type when climate variables are considered. The results of the study pointed towards the question of "good" leadership being a function of flexibility and the ability to respond to cues presented by organizational climate variables.

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