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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Experimental investigation of the effects on group and leader efficiency and leader anxiety when varied leadership styles are imposed Lee, Martin Blaine


The research reported in this study compares equalitarian and authoritarian personality types in terms of the use of prescribed leadership styles. Authoritarian and equalitarian individuals were used as leader subjects in two separate experimental small groups situations. In one experimental situation, an autocratic leadership style was prescribed for the subject. In the other experimental case, the individual used a prescribed democratic leadership style. The research involves testing with the use of an "F-scale" test, a population of M.B.A. students at the University of British Columbia in order to draw out six subjects which demonstrate authoritarian personality tendencies and also six subjects which demonstrate equalitarian personality tendencies. These twelve individuals were used as the leader subjects in the experimental runs. This study contains the results obtained from placing the authoritarian and equalitarian subjects in leadership positions for two small groups per leader subject. In one experimental run, the leader subject used an imposed democratic leadership style. In the second experimental run, an imposed autocratic leadership style was used. To make the experimental situation more realistic, an actual construction group task was simulated. The leader subject was given materials and a blueprint for the construction of a model skyscraper. Each leader was given instructions as how to divide the construction tasks among the workers of the group. Immediately after the elapse of the construction time limit the productivity of the group was assessed by the measurement of the height of the skyscraper completed. The anxiety perceived by the leader subjects during the experimental runs was assessed by their response to a self-reporting anxiety test administered immediately after each experimental run. The anxiety test used in this study is based on the anxiety test developed by Fenz and Epstein. Before the start of the experiment hypotheses were formulated regarding the expected results of the experiment. They were as follows: (1) For a given personality tendency, a congruent imposed leadership style is likely to be more effective as measured by group productivity than is an incongruent leadership style. (2) Leaders with democratic tendencies combined with an imposed democratic leadership style are likely to be more effective as measured by group productivity than are leaders with authoritarian personality tendencies with an imposed autocratic leadership style. (3) Where personality tendencies are apparently incongruent with the leadership style which is imposed, greater anxiety is likely to be perceived by the leader subject than in a congruent situation. The results of the study tend to support hypothesis No. 1 but are not significant at the 5% confidence level. The findings regarding productivity indicated that the congruency of personality tendencies and an imposed leadership style affected productivity more when the leader had authoritarian personality tendencies than when the leader had equalitarian personality tendencies. The experimental results relevant to hypothesis No. 2 did not substantiate it. The group productivity was higher in authoritarian congruent situations than it was in democratic congruent situations. However the difference was not large nor significant at the 5% confidence level. In general, the results tended to substantiate hypothesis No. 3. The greatest difference in anxiety scores was noted in experimental runs where the leader subjects had authoritarian personality tendencies. The authoritarian leaders had a mean of 24 for perceived anxiety in incongruent runs while equalitarian leaders had a mean for perceived anxiety of 18 in incongruent runs. However, this difference was not significant at the 5% confidence level. This study must be considered as an exploratory study. Although the results tended to substantiate the first and third hypotheses, the sample of leader subjects was small. It is recommended that further research be done with a larger sample of leader subjects using a refinement of the tools used and developed in this study.

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