Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effect of Situational Leadership and Employee Readiness Match on Organizational Citizenship Behavior in China

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effect of Situational Leadership and Employee Readiness Match on Organizational Citizenship Behavior in China

Article excerpt

We tested the effect of leader-follower matches of 182 supervisor and subordinate dyads on organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) in a Chinese context, based on situational leadership theory (SLT). Our aim was to expand the understanding of SLT application in an emerging market in a culture different from Western countries. Results indicated that situational leadership and employee readiness matches had a positive effect on OCB. However, 1 match in which the leader had a coaching role and the employee required detailed directions, was a partial match and was not significantly related to OCB. Theoretical and practical applications are discussed.

Keywords: employee readiness, situational leadership theory, organizational citizenship behavior, leader-follower match, emerging market.

Leadership effectiveness is critical to the potential performance of employees (Morrison, 2010). In this regard, situational leadership theory (SLT) is a contingency theory which has attracted researchers' attention. According to SLT, leaders should place emphasis on changing their type of leadership and on the capacity of employees to adapt to the external competitive environment (Hersey, Blanchard, & Johnson, 2001). More studies in which a leader-follower match is discussed would contribute to an effective response to dynamic competitive change (Küpers & Weibler, 2008).

Since the inception of SLT by Hersey and Blanchard in 1969 (cited in Graeff, 1997), the focus in the literature has been on organizations in the West. In addition, SLT knowledge enrichment has been negatively affected by theoretical and methodological limitations, such as: (a) assessing self-reported leader behavior leading to homologous variance, and (b) not examining individual outcomes such as organizational citizenship behavior (OCB; Graeff, 1997; Yukl, 2011).

To achieve leadership effectiveness, leaders need followers to obtain their desired results. Therefore, matching appropriate leadership behavior with a follower's level of readiness should be effective (Wu, Tsui, & Kinicki, 2010). As, to our knowledge, there are few leadership studies in a Chinese context (Zhang, Chen, Chen, & Ang, 2014), it is appropriate to focus on the leadership style and employee readiness match in China (Zhang, Wang, & Shi, 2012). Therefore, we proposed the following research questions:

Research Question 1: Does a situational leadership and employee readiness match have an effect on OCB in a Chinese context?

Research Question 2: If so, how does the match relate to OCB, and which match would be the most effective?

Literature Review and Hypotheses Development

SLT researchers contend that leader effectiveness is a joint function of leader behavior, follower readiness, and leader-follower match (Hersey et al., 2001). Task (directive) behavior and relationship (supportive) behavior make up the two dimensions of situational leadership, which consists of four styles: S1 (directing; high task/low relationship) refers to the leader providing direction and close supervision; S2 (coaching; high task/high relationship) refers to the leader taking a coaching role, seeking ideas and suggestions; S3 (participating; low task/high relationship) refers to the leader providing more support than direction; and, S4 (empowering; low task/low relationship) refers to the leader being involved in decision making and problem solving only, providing little supervision or support (Hersey et al., 2001).

Employee readiness is defined as a blend of the critical capacities of ability and willingness (Hersey et al., 2001). These dimensions reflect the dynamic characteristics of employee growth in Chinese enterprises in a transition period. Four employee styles have been identified: RI refers to an employee with low ability and low willingness; R2 refers to an employee with high willingness and low ability, who would need detailed direction; R3 refers to an employee with high ability and low willingness, who would need more relational support than direction; and R4 refers to an employee with high ability and high willingness, who would desire to work proactively and assume much responsibility (Hersey et al. …

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