BMO6630 – Business Research Methods

BMO6630 – Business Research Methods
Assessment 1: Structured Abstract
This structured abstract will review the topic of ‘leadership’ through the research of, Fiedler, Ahn and Ettner, Muchiri et al and Vimba et al.

  1. Brief summary of the theory and progression in the field (i.e., how has the theory developed since first proposed?)
    Fielder’s research, which occurred in 1964, proposes that the most important aspect of successful leadership is the relationship between the leader and his or her subordinates and that this aspect creates the conditions for success. Fiedler also proposes a second important dimension, task structure, which, within the context of the relationship between the leader and his or her subordinates, also impacts leadership success.
    Fiedler recognises there are numerous variables within the above hypothesis, such as, task specificity or task ambiguity, power of the leader, acceptance of the leader by his or her team, permissive leadership style or controlling leadership style. Fiedler categorises and presents these variables in an eight-cubed model as a means of showing the way in which different combinations of these variables may or may not determine successful leadership. The author posits that the way in which these variables interact determines the conditions in which the leader is successful, or otherwise.
    In the time since Fiedler’s research the subject of leadership has received significant and ongoing attention. Among numerous authors on the subject of leadership, Ahn and Ettner, Muchiri et al and Vimba et al have proposed that factors such as ethics, job satisfaction, leadership style (transformational leadership or social process leadership) or characteristics of the leader, i.e. humility, integrity and sense of urgency, determine successful leadership. Each author has looked closely at these factors, but unlike Fielder, have not presented the information in a leadership model. In other words, each hypothesis is an examination into the components of leadership style.
    It is apparent that the variables that Fiedler acknowledges within his own hypothesis have been examined in greater detail by the subsequent authors. Across all theories there appears to be an emphasis on the social aspects of leadership, even though the topic itself is broad and dependant on many contextual variables, such as country, culture, industry and
    sector. Interestingly, the work of Ahn and Ettner indicates that leadership values have not changed over time.
  2. Common themes/findings across the four articles.
    As mentioned, Fiedler’s research emphasises the social aspects of leadership, where the trust and likability of the leader plays a critical role in his or her effectiveness. Likewise, the work of Ahn and Ettner, Muchiri et al and Vimba et al indicate that social aspects of leadership play a critical role on organisational outcomes.
    The work of Muchiri et al indicates that, within the more formalised framework of transformational and transactional leadership styles, social-process leadership is effective in improving organisational outcomes due to the reliance on communication and adaptability, which ultimately leads to organisational citizenship behaviour among staff. Values based leadership and the consequential shared identification between leader and subordinates is suggested in the work of Ahn and Ettner. This research indicates that human-based values and values-based leadership become institutionalised, thus leading to cross-generational social agreements within an organisation’s work force. Finally, Vimba et al propose that ethical leadership behaviour can influence the social process of organisational learning, thus improving staff motivation towards better organisational outcomes.
  3. Different themes/findings across the four articles.
    It is difficult to identify contrasting theories across the articles, as the research conducted by each author focusses on specific and potentially unique aspects of leadership.
    To begin with, the work of Fiedler, due to the era in which the research was conducted, primarily has men as the subjects of the research. Naturally, more recent research represents contemporary workplace gender breakdowns, with both men and women being represented in the studies. In this respect, it is possible that the findings of Fielder’s research highlights leadership characteristics that are more closely related to what may be perceived to be normative male behaviours.
    Muchiri et al tend to focus on organisational citizenship behaviour being a common outcome of transformational and social-process leadership styles, due to the consistently high score that both dimensions receive in collective efficacy and employee commitment.
    The research conducted by Ahn and Ettner emphasises that value-based leadership is surpassing traits-based leadership that had tended to be the preference in previous eras. Of note, integrity was one dimension that scored high across the eight dimensions that were included in the study. The authors argued that the values held in high regard by respondents tended to become institutionalised across the organisation.
    There was a broader focus on strategy and organisation within the research of Vimba et al, rather than specific leadership characteristics. The authors examined six themes and concluded that leaders must include all levels of organisational hierarchy in decision making using a participative delegative management style, in order to produce favourable organisational outcomes.
  4. Study limitations and how these differ across the various study designs (quantitative, qualitative).
    Fiedler acknowledges that the personality measures used in the study, LPC (low preferred co-worker) and ASo (assumed similarity between opposites) do not correlate with standard personality measures, thus interpretations in the research are highly speculative (Fiedler, 1964). It is noted that the real life settings in which the model is tested are limited, and predominantly within military contexts. This, coupled with the significant number of variables within the Contingency Model itself, means that the study cannot be used in other settings.
    Both Muchiri et al and Ahn and Ettner note that small sample sizes are factors needing consideration when reviewing the research findings. Muchiri et al further note that the data used for the study was gathered in the US and as such presents difficulties when attempting to apply and rationalise the findings in Australian contexts.
    As the research conducted by Vimba et al is solely qualitative, the authors note that data would benefit from validation by way of quantitative research.
  5. Future research directions proposed in the articles.
    As Fielder notes that the generalisability of the Contingency Model is questionable, the author recommends that future research should focus on testing the model under specific conditions. As previously noted, the research occurred within military and manufacturing
    settings and so the useability of the model in other organisational settings needs further investigation.
    Interestingly, the qualitative study and the quantitative study of Vimba et al and Muchiri et al respectively, recommended that the opposite method of research be used for future studies and so it is apparent that a combination of these research methodologies is needed in order to validate current findings.
    Of further note, all four studies recommended that research findings be used to inform the design of training programs for leaders.
    Ahn, M, Ettner, L, 2014,”Are leadership values different across generations?”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 33 Iss 10 pp. 977 – 990
    Fiedler, F, 1964, ‘A Contingency Model of Leadership Effectiveness’, Journal: Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, ISSN: 0065-2601, Volume 1, Issue C, pp 149 – 190
    Muchiri, M, Cooksey, R, Walumbwa, F, 2012, “Transformational and Social Processes of Leadership as Predictors of Organisational Outcomes”, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 Iss 7 pp. 662 – 683
    Vimba, M, Coetzee, J and Ukpere, W, 2013, ‘A Relationship between Leadership Work Ethic and Organisational Performance in the Public Sector’, Department of Industrial Psychology and People Management, Faculty of Management, University of Johannesburg, South Africa, J Soc Sci, 35(2): 169-180 (2013)

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