Transformational Leadership and Organizational Commitment: A Cross-Cultural Perspective

Article excerpt


This study explores the relationship between transformational leader behavior and employee commitment to the organization. The respondents for this study include 474 professional employees from a large multi-national, high-tech corporation in the United States (US) (n = 332) and Israel (n = 142). Data were collected using Kouzes & Posner's (1997) Leadership Practices Inventory and Meyer & Allen's (1991) three-dimensional Organizational Commitment scale. The results provide evidence that supports the relationship between leader behavior and employees' commitment to the organization in the US and Israel, contributes to the growing body of literature on leadership practices and organizational commitment, and strengthens the existing knowledge on the effectiveness of US-based leadership practices in other countries.


transformational leadership, organizational commitment, leadership practices, effectiveness, cross-cultural, Israel, United States


The concept of organizational commitment has received a great deal of attention in the literature in recent years. Researchers and practitioners have an ongoing interest in organizational commitment because of its relationship to important outcomes, including job performance, discretionary effort, acceptance of organizational change, organizational citizenship behavior, turnover intentions, and voluntary employee turnover (Fischer &Mansell, 2009; Herscovitch & Meyer, 2002; Keller, 1997; Schappe, 1998; Vandenberghe &Bentein, 2009).

The Corporate Leadership Council (2009) recently reported a decrease in employee commitment in organizations around the world by as much as 10% since 2005. The decrease in employee commitment places additional stress on organizations as they wrestle with the broad implications of economic and organizational uncertainty. Given the importance of employee commitment to organizational success, researchers have sought to identify and understand the specific aspects of the work environment that influence organizational commitment.

A number of researchers have examined the relationship between leader behavior and organizational commitment; the relationship has been fairly well established. Mathieu and Zajac (1990), in their meta-analysis of the organizational commitment literature, find that leader communication, participative leadership behaviors, and leader consideration behaviors correlate positively with commitment (r = .45, r = .39, and r = .33, respectively). Research has continued over the last 20 years with a variety of populations, building the case for a significant and important relationship between leader behavior and organizational commitment.

There has been an increased focus on the positive relationship between transformational leadership and organizational commitment (Dale &Fox, 2008; Dvir, Kass, & Shamir, 2004; McCann, 2011). When using transformational leadership behavior, leaders articulate a shared vision, set high expectations, intellectually stimulate subordinates, recognize individual differences, and demonstrate consideration and support (Bass, 1990). Transformational leadership has been found to have significant and positive relationships with organizational commitment in the United States (US) (Bycio, Hackett, & Alien, 1995; Emery & Barker, 2007). Studies outside the US also have found transformational leadership to have a significant and positive relationship to organizational commitment with an increasing number and variety of populations, including staff nurses in Singapore (Avolio, Weichun, Koh, &Bhatia, 2004), R&D professionals in Singapore (Lee, 2005), employees in small family-owned businesses in Germany (Bernard & O'Driscoll, 2011), salespeople in Greece (Panagopoulos & Dimitriadis, 2009), and tellers and clerks in banks in Kenya (Walumbwa, Orwa, Wang, & Lawler, 2005).

The number of cross-cultural studies on the relationship between transformational leader behavior and organizational commitment is growing but still limited. …