This article reviews the leadership literature from 1990-2005 in twenty- one major journals in order to determine the nature and extent of attention to the organizational context as a factor affecting leaders’ behavior and their effectiveness.
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Both conceptual and empirical articles were rated as having moderate/strong,” “slight,” or “no” emphasis on the organizational context. Those articles classified in the moderate/strong category were analyzed under seven organizational context components. Suggestions are included for improving the breadth and depth of empirical knowledge about the interaction of leadership and the organizational context. C 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Keyboards: Leadership; Organizational context 1.
Introduction In the past 15 years or so, there have been increasing calls in the literature for the necessity to give more attention to the role of the organizational intent as a major factor affecting leadership behavior and outcomes. Consistent with those calls, the basic premise of this article is: Leadership in organizations does not take place in a vacuum. It takes place in organizational contexts. The key issue, therefore, is whether, and to what extent, the organizational context has been front and center in recent leadership literature.
That is, does a relative void still exist in the research literature on the impact of the organizational context on leadership? If it does, the situation would seem to be like the weather: many liking about it, but very few doing much about it insofar as empirical research is concerned. Progress in filling this void, to the extent that it exists, would seem to be essential for a better understanding of leadership phenomena. In the field of organizational behavior generally, there has been a relative lack of attention to how the larger organization context affects specific areas of individual and group behavior.
These areas would include, among others, motivation, communication, teams, and, as emphasized here, leadership. The need for more focus and research on the The authors would like to thank Teaspoon (Pam) Ostentation, Simon He, James Thompson, and Yearly Review Editor, Jerry Hunt, for their valuable assistance on this project. * Corresponding author. Paul Emerge School of Management, University of California, Irvine, CA 92697, USA. Tell: +1 949 644 5358. E-mail addresses: [email protected]. Deed (L. W.
Porter), [email protected]. Deed (G. B. McLaughlin). 1 Tell. : +1 949 8244945. 1048-9843/$ – see front matter C 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. DOI: 10. 1016/j. League. 2006. 10. 002 560 L. W. Porter, G. B. McLaughlin / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 559-576 organizational context in the B field was noted by Monday and Sutton in their 1993 Annual Review of Psychology chapter on “organizational behavior”: We believe the field [of organizational behavior] needs to return to a focus on organizational phenomena.
This effort will be aided by the immersion of researchers in organizational contexts. It may also move the field in useful directions that will counter the common criticism that much organizational behavior research is irrelevant to the well-being of organizations and their members. (Monday & Sutton, 1 993, p. 225). Likewise, Porter in an article in 996 stated: Probably the most significant failure of micro-BOB… Is that we have tended to ignore the “O” in our studies of micro phenomena. We clearly have emphasized the “B,”… UT we have by and large been remiss in considering organizations as critical contexts affecting the behavior occurring in them… We have given too little attention to the internal, organizational environment affecting behavior (Porter, 1996, p. 264). In the area of leadership specifically, the need to give more attention to how the context – though not always specifically the organizational context-affects leadership behavior and outcomes has been increasingly emphasized in recent years.
Among those making this point are the following: Toss (in an article entitled “The organization as a context for leadership theory: A multilevel approach”): “Current [leadership] theory and research – which, we argue, is interpersonal and dyadic – in most cases may be near the limits of utility” (Toss, 1991, p. 227). Shaman and Howell: “The study of leadership needs to reflect not only leaders’ personal characteristics and behaviors but also the situational factors which influence leadership emergence and effectiveness” (Shaman & Howell, 1999, p. 9). Bola and Heisenberg: “Many of the new theories of leadership appear context free. That is, they do not consider how environmental and organizational context influence the process” (Bola & Heisenberg, 2000, p. 528). Osborn, Hunt, and Cauchy: “The purpose of this article is to explore a neglected side of leadership. The underlying idea is quite simple. Leadership and its effectiveness, in large part, are dependent upon the context. Change the context and leadership changes… ” (Osborn, Hunt, & Cauchy, 2002, p. 97); “Hence, ‘leadership’ is an emerging social construction embedded in unique organization ? it is contextual leadership” (p. 832). “The context in which leadership is enacted has not received much attention” (Antiskid et al. , 2004). Clearly, a number of voices have been raised concerning the importance and necessity for gaining a better understanding of contextual influences on leadership. In this article, our explicit focus is on the role of the organization as a context for leadership taking place within.
It should be noted that in the quotes cited above and in the typical way to which this role is referred to in most of the iterate, it is the “influence” or “impact” of the context on leadership. However, it also goes without saying that the organizational context also can be impacted by leadership (e. G. , a leader changing the structure). Thus, organizational context can be a dependent variable of leadership action as well as a variable of influence on leadership.
Nevertheless, the primary emphasis of this review is on the organizational context as an influencing factor. In those few instances in the literature where the emphasis is on the reverse direction of causality, this will be pointed out. The central questions that form the basis of this article are: How much conceptual scholarship and empirical research has been carried out in recent years that specifically addresses the issue of the organization as a context for leadership? Based on what has been done so far, what do we know?
Finally, what do we need to know more about from future research? 2. Relevant recent literature: A 16-year overview 2. 1 . Articles reviewed We chose to concentrate our review on relatively recent scholarly literature pertaining to leadership. Thus, we utilized the time period 1990-2005, representing the last decade of the 20th entry and the first half of the initial decade of the 21st century. Coincidentally, 1990 also was the year in which the first scholarly journal devoted exclusively to leadership, The Leadership Quarterly, began publication. 61 For this 16-year time span we searched 21 major domestic and international organizational behavior and management journals as well as relevant leading sociological journals likely to have at least some articles pertaining to leaderships. It is important to stress that we scanned all of the articles in these journals, but only those articles that had the potential to deal with leadership occurring in organizational settings were reviewed in detail. If any article dealt with leadership but by its topic or nature had no possibility to emphasize the organizational context, it was excluded from further consideration.
Thus, for example, articles addressed to research methodology issues, meta-analyses, and analyses of political leaders were excluded. Consistent with our focus on the current time frame, we also excluded articles dealing with examinations of historical leadership or industry leadership over time. In addition, in accord with our focus on the organizational context and not on elements of organizations’ external environment, we excluded articles pertaining to the effects of a country’s culture, economy, political situation etc. Variables such as these are beyond the scope of this article.
Specifically, we focused on context variables associated with the organization that could potentially affect behavior occurring within the organization (see Table 2 for the list of organizational context variables considered in this article). The question asked of each “qualifying” (non-excluded) article was: To what extent does the article have a “moderate/ strong emphasis,” “slight emphasis,” or “no emphasis” on the organizational context. Clearly, such a lactation’s into “moderate/strong,” “slight,” or “none” is, to a degree, subjective.
Initial ratings were made by a research assistant who was instructed as follows: Please examine each of the following articles. Place a checkmate in the appropriate column (i. E. , “moderate/ strong,” “slight,” or “no”] to indicate whether or not the article considers or includes organizational context variables. An organizational context variable refers to one or more elements of the organization itself that could determine the type of leadership used and/or affect the impact of the leader(s) on their followers/subordinates.
Organizational intent variables do NOT include elements pertaining strictly to the individual such as personality traits, gender, intentions, and attitudes. Organizational context variables may include items relating to: [see Table 2]. The rater was instructed that if in doubt between rating an article as having “moderate/ strong” or “slight” emphasis on the organizational context it was to be classified in the stronger category. Likewise, if the rater was not sure if an article should be classified as “none” or “slight,” it should be classified in the latter category.
In other words, the rater was instructed to err on the side of the higher rating. To check on the reliability of the initial classification ratings, 15% of the articles were re-rated by two different research assistants who had no connection to, or knowledge of, the original ratings for those articles. This re-rating showed that there was 97 and 94% agreement in classification between the two re- raters and the original article rater.
Where there was disagreement, an article was reviewed by one of the authors. None of the few disagreements involved an article being rated as having no emphasis on the organizational context when, in fact, slight or moderate/strong emphasis existed. Rather, the only disagreements that arose were in those few instances when an article was listed as having moderate/strong rather than slight emphasis, or slight rather than no emphasis. 2. 2. Overall findings 2. 2. 1 .
Percent of all “qualified” articles having a “moderate/ strong” emphasis on the organizational context As shown in Table 1, the total number of all “qualified” (i. E. , articles that could have had an emphasis on the organizational context) articles – whether conceptual or empirical – from the nine journals reviewed over this recent arrear time span was 373. This number forms he denominator in the ratio of “moderate/strong” emphasis on organizational context to the total number of articles that could have had such an emphasis.
The table shows that only 16% of the relevant articles took into account the organizational context to at least a moderate extent as a factor affecting conclusions. Domestic B and management journals included: Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Management, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, The Leadership Quarterly, Organization Science, and Personnel Psychology.
International journals included: Journal of Management Studies, British Journal of Management, Work and Organizational Psychology, Organization Studies, Journal of International Business, Management International Review, and Human Relations. Sociological journals included: American Sociological Review. American Journal of Sociology, Social Science Quarterly, and Journal of Social Issues. 2 562 Table 1 Analysis of articles L. W. Porter, G. B. McLaughlin / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 559-576
Quantity of empirical and conceptual publications among reviewed articles Total number of all relevant articles reviewed Empirical articles as % of total Conceptual articles as % of total Amount of emphasis on organizational context in reviewed articles Total number of all reviewed articles % of all reviewed articles with moderate-to-strong emphasis on organizational context % of all reviewed articles with slight emphasis on organizational context % of all reviewed articles with no emphasis on organizational context Total number of conceptual reviewed articles % of reviewed conceptual articles with moderate- o-strong emphasis on organizational context % of reviewed conceptual articles with slight emphasis on organizational context % of reviewed conceptual articles with no emphasis on organizational context Total number of empirical reviewed articles % of reviewed empirical articles with moderate-to-strong emphasis on organizational context % of reviewed empirical articles with slight emphasis on organizational context % of reviewed empirical articles with no emphasis on organizational context (373) 19% (149) 15% 29% (223) 13% 13% 74% (373) 2. 2. 2.
Percent of conceptual articles having a “moderate/strong” emphasis on the organizational context Although our emphasis in this review is on the relevant empirical literature relating to leadership and the organizational context, we first provide in Table 1 the percentage of conceptual articles that provide a moderate/ strong emphasis on the organizational context. As can be seen, that percentage is a relatively small 15%. 2. 2. 3. Percent of empirical articles having a “moderate/ strong” emphasis on the organizational context The extent to which the empirical literature that could have had a moderate/strong emphasis on the organizational context actually did so is shown in the bottom part of Table 1 .
That percentage was 13%, even a slightly smaller percentage than for conceptual articles. Moreover, if we were also to include the articles classified as having a slight emphasis on organizational context, we WOUld find an even greater discrepancy. Empirical articles having moderate/strong or a slight emphasis on organizational context totaled only 26% of all the included articles; whereas, conceptual articles with moderate/strong or slight emphasis on organizational context totaled 44% of the included articles. These figures suggest that leadership scholars tend to elk somewhat more about the importance of context for affecting leadership than they do in actually collecting empirical data on the subject. 3.
Analysis of relevant articles by components of organizational context There is no universally agreed-upon set of components that comprise the context for leader behavior, or other types of behavior, occurring within an organizational setting. However, an examination of several relevant sources in the literature (Bola & Heisenberg, 2000; Hickman & Washman, 2005; Monday & Sutton, 1 993; Osborn et al. , 2002; Prewar & Eastman, 1997; Shaman & Howell, 1999; Toss, 1991) suggests a fair degree f consensus that the following components (listed alphabetically) are important and deserve study in their own right: Culture/climate Goals/purposes People/composition Processes State/Condition Structure Time Table 2 Major components of organizational context: examples of elements of components Component Culture/climate Examples of elements Types of culture (e. . ; bureaucratic, adaptive) Norms that reflect the culture Cultural emphasis on ethics 563 Goals/purposes People/composition Goals, strategies, and missions of individuals, groups and organizational units Demographic variability within the organization Capabilities of individuals and groups Type(s) of technologies in use Task factors (e. G. ; differentiation, complexity, ambiguity) Mode of governance Degree of standardization of processes within the organization Policies (e. G. ; HARM policies) Processes State/condition Stability or crisis Availability of resources Organizational health (e. G. Financial, reputation) Size, shape, and type of organization Degree of formalization and centralization Hierarchical levels of individuals and groups ender consideration Spatial distances between individuals/groups Structure Time Duration of leadership effects Organizational life cycle stage effects CEO/TM succession history Examples of the elements that comprise each of these major components are shown in Table 2, and the number of times each component was addressed in the relevant articles is shown in Table 3. 3. 1. Culture/climate Articles were assigned to this category if they discussed or investigated the type of culture or climate prevalent in an organization, the behavioral norms reflective of an organization’s culture, or the prevailing values of a given culture or climate, for example, an emphasis on ethical behavior.
Differing somewhat from Schneider (Schneider, Brief, & Ouzo, 1996), but consistent with Click (Click, 1985) and Dimension (Dimension, 1996), for Table 3 Number of times each organizational context component was addressed in conceptual and empirical articles from 1990-2005 Organizational context component Culture/climate Goals/purposed People/composition Processes State/condition Structure Time Total a Number of times component was addressed a in conceptual articles 11 1 43 6 10 641 Number of times component was addressed a in empirical articles 5 5 44 6 10 2 36 These numbers represent the incidences that a given component was addressed in the literature, not the number of articles addressing each component; a given article can address more than one component. 564 C. W. Porter, G. B. McLaughlin / The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 559-576 purposes of this review we treated climate and culture as a single phenomenon. Dimension concluded that “these two research traditions should be viewed as differences in interpretation rather than differences in phenomenon. ” (Dimension, 1996, p. 45). 3. 1 . 1.
Conceptual articles Eleven conceptual articles addressed the organizational context in terms of its culture or climate. Four of these articles focused on adaptive, change, or innovation (Muffed, Scott, Caddis, & Strange, 2002; Prewar & Eastman, 1997; Shaman & Howell, 1999). The other seven addressed various types of cultures (Viola, Khaki, & Dodge, 2000; Bess & Goldman, 2001; Davis & Gardner, 2004 Hamburg-k, Finniest, & Mooney, 2005; Hunt & Rope, 1995; Scandal & Lankan, 1996; Trice & Buyer, 1991; Walden, 1993). Trice & Buyer (1991) described two types of leaders, those focused n changing an organization’s culture and those focused on maintaining it.
They specified that charismatic leaders will be viewed differently based on their focus. Prewar & Eastman (1997) suggested that when an organization’s climate is oriented towards change and/or adaptation, the organization may not actively seek out a transformational leader but will be receptive to one. Shaman & Howell (1999) proposed that an adaptive or clan culture can lead to charismatic leadership. In a discussion of how leaders contribute to creativity in an organization, Muffed et al. (2002) stated that leaders should develop a ultra supportive of innovation. The remaining articles addressed various types of organizational cultures and climates.
Two articles discussed the effect of an organization’s culture on ELM relationships. Scandal & Lankan (1996) suggested that an organizational culture that emphasizes the importance of diversity may increase the occurrence of heterogeneous L MIX dyads. Davis & Gardner (2004) focused on the perceptions of the quality of ELM relationships and suggested that the positive or negative political climate of an organization will affect subordinates’ perception of ELM quality. The remaining articles each addressed a different type of culture. Walden (1993) suggested that organizations with a learning culture would be receptive to transformational leadership.
Hunt & Rope (1995) proposed that conservative organizational cultures are the result of past successes by leaders. Humpback et al. (2005) stated that cultures characterized by high levels of stress affect the strategic decisions made by executives. Viola et al. (2000) proposed that a culture of trust would emerge as the result of an appropriate match of advanced information technology and leadership style. In a comparison of cultures and leadership styles between K-12 schools and universities, Bess & Goldman (2001) suggested that the cultural differences between the two types of educational institutions determine the effectiveness of leadership within them. 3. 1. 2.
Empirical articles Five empirical articles addressed the culture or climate of an organization as it affects or is affected by leadership (Rather, 2004; Howell & Viola, 1993; Jung, Chow, & We, 2003; Morrison & Phelps, 1999; Yogic, 1998). Three of the empirical articles dealt with innovation and/or change. Howell & Viola (1993) found that a climate supportive of innovation moderated the causal relationship between a transformational leader’s behaviors and a given unit’s performance such that higher levels of support for innovation resulted in improved unit performance. In a study of 275 employees in different organizations, Morrison & Phelps (1999) found that an employee’s willingness to lead, to “take charge,” was directly related to top management’s openness to change and to an overall climate supportive of innovation and change. Jung et al. 2003), in a survey of 32 Taiwanese companies, found that a limited supportive of innovation increased a transformational leader’s positive effect on organizational innovation. The remaining two empirical articles addressed different aspects of organizational culture. Yogic (1998) found that the effects of charismatic leadership, particularly at the dyadic level, were enhanced by an organizational culture that endorsed close social relationships. Rather (2004) observed that differences in the levels of servant leadership between work units were positively correlated to the strength of the emphasis on procedural justice in a unit’s culture. 3. 13. Summary comments Two conclusions can be ran from these articles as a whole.
First, it appears that there is more concern for the interplay of culture and leadership in the conceptual literature where there are twice as many articles dealing with an organization’s culture or climate as in the empirical literature. Second, in both areas, organizational cultures supportive of innovation and change emerge as the most frequently considered types. 565 3. 2. Goals and purposes Articles were classified under goals and purposes if they focused mainly on the goals, strategies, and/or missions of individuals, groups, and/or larger organizational units. 3. . 1 . Conceptual article Only one conceptual article addressed the organizational context component of goals or purposes (Shaman & Howell, 1999).
In an article addressing several organizational context components which could affect the emergence and effectiveness of charismatic leadership, Shaman and Howell included a discussion of the importance of performance goals, particularly whether they were clear or ambiguous. The authors suggested that ambiguous performance goals, particularly when combined with challenging tasks, contribute to both the emergence and the effectiveness of charismatic leadership. . 2. 2. Empirical articles Five empirical articles addressed the organizational context in terms of goals and purposes. Three of these considered goals at the organizational level (De Hog et al. , 2005; Geri & Frost, 1994; Walden et al. , 1998).
The remaining two focused on goals and purposes at the group level (Keller, 1992; Pastor, Median, & Mayo, 2002). Of the three articles examining the effect of the organization’s goals on leadership in the organization, two chose to distinguish between for-profit and voluntary organizations. Geri & Frost (1994) focused on organizations driven by environmental goals and found that they were more likely to encourage and be highly receptive to transformational leadership behaviors than were for-profit organizations. De Hog et al. (2005) tested employees’ perceptions of leaders with high levels of power motivation and responsibility and found that these leaders were more frequently viewed as charismatic in voluntary than in for- profit organizations.
The third article (Walden et al. , 1998) examined three organizations in a case driven, qualitative study of the relationship between transformational leadership and the organizations’ desire to develop a quality improvement program. They found that during IQ attempts, top level leaders demonstrated transformational behaviors, and that these behaviors were related to the success of the IQ initiative. At the group level, Keller (1992) examined the link between transformational leadership and group performance. He focused on groups with two different goals; one to do basic research and the other to develop a new project from existing knowledge and technology.
He found that transformational leadership led to higher performance in the pure research group than in the incremental development group. In the last article, Pastor et l. (2002) tested for consensus concerning attributions of a leader’s charisma by members of networks with different goals. They found that, initially, members of purely social networks were more in agreement concerning a member’s charismatic leadership than were the members of a task-related network. 3. 2. 3. Summary comments As an organizational context component, goals and purposes have not received a great deal of attention, with most of what there is appearing in the empirical rather than the conceptual literature.
It is interesting to note that all of the empirical articles examined elements of transformational ND/or charismatic leadership, while other aspects of leadership were not considered. In the period covered by this review, organizational and group level goals have been considered in empirical research studies, but the single relevant conceptual article focused on the individual level of goals and purposes in relationship to leadership. 3. 3. People/composition Articles were assigned to this category if they addressed the organizational context in terms of the people or groups involved in the organization, for example, their demographic characteristics or their varying capabilities. 3. 3. Conceptual articles Four articles were assigned to this category (Heisenberg & Diatom’s, 1 996; Klein & House, 1995; Muffed et al. , 2002; Scandal & Lankan, 1996). All four articles addressed heterogeneity in the organization. Heisenberg & Diatom’s (1996) took the most general approach calling for more research into how diverse organizations need to be led and the implications for female and minority managers of different types of leadership. Scandal & Lankan (1996) addressed somewhat the same issue but 566 in a more specific way by proposing that high levels of heterogeneity in the verbal organization could positively affect the development of healthy ELM relationships by women and minorities. Muffed et al. 2002) discussed the conditions that lead to increased creativity and innovation in organizations and advanced the idea that leaders who are effective in encouraging innovation do so through the development of heterogeneous teams. In the final article assigned to this component, Klein & House (1995) discussed two forms of charismatic leadership: homogeneous, in which the charismatic leader interacts equally with all followers; and limited, with strong charismatic effects on only mom followers. They suggested that homogeneous workforces contribute to homogeneous charismatic leadership. 3. 3. 2. Empirical articles Four articles dealt specifically with the organizational context in terms of people in the organization (Cliff, Longboat, & Aldrich, 2005; Elroy, 1997; Lucas, 2003; Mayo, Pastor, & Median, 1996).
Two dealt with gender issues while the other two dealt with the effects of heterogeneity at different levels. Lucas (2003) found that in organizations that have institutionalized female leadership, in other words where female leaders are the norm not the exception, women attain positions equal to those attained by men promoted on merit in organizations that have not institutionalized women as leaders. Cliff et al. (2005) examined the structures and relationship processes introduced by male and female leaders. The study examined the owners of 229 small firms assuming that owners of small firms would have more impact on the overall structures and processes in their firms than would leaders in large corporations.
They found that the leaders did not adhere either to traditionally defined masculine bureaucratic structures or to feminine relationship processes. Rather, the leader’s gender did not seem to affect the choice of structure or relationship process. Mayo et al. (1996) examined group heterogeneity as it affects a leader’s sense of self-efficacy. In a study of 64 workups, the authors found that groups with high levels of heterogeneity due to gender, race, and tenure received lower performance ratings from their group leaders. Measurements of leaders’ feelings of self-efficacy were lower after they evaluated their work groups. Additionally, this effect was more pronounced for charismatic than for transactional leaders.