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An experimental validation and extension of Fiedler's contingency model of leadership effectiveness Saha, Sudhir Kumar

Abstract

Fiedler's Contingency Model suggests that task-oriented leaders are more effective where the leadership situation is either very favourable or very unfavourable and that relations-oriented leaders are more effective in situations of intermediate favourability. This model was put here to an empirical test using three-man laboratory group performing either a structured or an unstructured task. An effort was also made to extend the model by investigating the effect of three new variables, namely, intelligence, ability and motivation as determinants of situation favourability for a leader. Based on earlier conjectures by Hill and Fiedler, it was predicted that the degree of intelligence and ability as well as the level of motivation of leaders and group members will determine how effective a leader would be in achieving higher group productivity. One hundred and forty-seven Commerce undergraduate students of the University of British Columbia participated in the investigation. They were assigned to 49 groups of three people. One of the three people in each group was appointed as leader on the basis of a sociometric preference rating. Leadership situations were created by manipulating task structure, leader position power, leader member relations, intelligence, ability and motivation. Group productivity was rated using two criteria of performance - speed and quality of group decision. It was hypothesized that group decisions of higher quality and greater speed will be associated with higher intelligence, ability and motivation of leaders and group members. The results provided moderate support for the Contingency Model predictions in terms of direction and magnitude of correlations between leadership style and group productivity. Most of the correlations, however, failed to satisfy the test of statistical significance. In the extension part of the study, the results showed that (1) motivation significantly affected the speed of group decision and contributed to the leadership effectiveness; (2) intelligence of leaders and group members significantly affected both the quality and speed of group decision; (3) ability as operationally defined by a self-esteem measure did not influence either the speed or the quality of group problem solving; (4) motivation did not influence quality of group output. On the basis of findings in (1), (2), (3) and (4) above, it was concluded that intelligence, motivation and perhaps ability should be incorporated in future studies of the Contingency Model as parameters of situation favourability.

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