Does Transformational Leadership Matter during Organizational Change?

By Chou, Paul | European Journal of Sustainable Development, July 1, 2014 | Go to article overview

Does Transformational Leadership Matter during Organizational Change?


Chou, Paul, European Journal of Sustainable Development


1. Introduction

As modern organizations pursue changes to enhance their competitive positions and their survivability in competitive markets (Higgs & Rowland, 2005), the successful implementation of organizational change has become an important management task. Nevertheless, countless companies have failed to implement organizational changes in recent decades (Higgs & Rowland, 2005; Jaros, 2010; Judge, Thoresen, Pucik, & Welbourne, 1999). These failures indicate that there is considerable room for researchers to provide insights into opportunities for improving the success of these changes (Parish, Cadwallader, & Busch, 2007).

Given that individuals are the most important units in organizational change (Graetz & Smith, 2010), the successful implementation of organizational change often requires employees' acceptance and support (Fedor, Caldwell, & Herold, 2006; Miller, Johnson, & Grau, 1994). In other words, employees' positive attitudes and supportive behavior are a necessary condition for successful planned change (Fedor et al., 2006; Meyer, Srinivas, Lai, & Topolnytsky, 2007; Miller et al.,1994; Parish et al., 2007). However, there is limited understanding of the numerous factors associated with people's decision to support organizational change (Lamm & Gordon, 2010).

Furthermore, literature on organizational change has been limited by the fact that past studies have tended to measure only the affective and attitudinal responses of employees to organizational change, rather than behavioral responses (Lamm & Gordon, 2010). These facts point to the urgent need for researchers to investigate the impact of the affective and behavioral reactions of employees toward change (Parish, Cadwallader, & Busch, 2007).

In essence, organizational change is stressful as it causes changes to, and demands readjustment of, average employees' normal routines. In this regard, leadership is seen as one of the most important variables affecting the attitudinal dimension of organizational life (Jaskyte, 2003). Moreover, leadership has been considered a critical element in organizational change (Yousef, 2000). With respect to the types of organizational leadership and their exchange relationship with followers, several reviews and meta- analyses have indicated that transformational leadership can result in individual, group, and unit performance beyond expectations (Sosik & Godshalk, 2000).

Recently, there has been growing interest in understanding the influence of transformational leadership on followers. However, scholars have given little attention to the question of what characterizes transformational and what underlying mechanisms enable transformational leaders to affect followers and to arouse different types of motivation among their followers (Kirk, & Dijk, 2007). Hence, this study aims to elucidate the underlying process through which transformational leadership exerts its influence on their followers' supportive behavior toward change in order to contribute to a better understanding of the inner workings of transformational leadership and organizational change.

In addition, past studies have tended to investigate the affective and attitudinal responses of employees to organizational change more than behavioral responses (Lamm & Gordon, 2010). Accordingly, it is both important and beneficial to gain an understanding of the drivers of employees' supportive behavior for change (Fedor et al., 2006). In short, this study aims to answer calls for developing a greater understanding of the complexities of individuals' affective reactions under certain type of leadership during organizational change (Herold, Fedor, & Caldwell, 2007) in the attempt to improve the success of organizational changes (Parish et al., 2007).

2. Literature Review And Hypothesis Development

2.1.1 Transformational leadership (TL)

There is evidence that employees engage in an exchange relationship with both the organization as a whole and their immediate supervisor (Stinglhamber & Vandenberghe, 2003). …

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