Examining the nature and significance of leadership in government organizations

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-333
Journal / PublicationPublic Administration Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


Though the mainstream organizational literature has advanced in the last 20 years with the integration of transformational and distributed leadership theories, as well as genuine attempts at comprehensive models, the public sector literature has lagged, especially in utilizing large-scale empirical studies. This study takes advantage of a very large government data set to test the utility of one of the best known theories, the "full range" leadership theory of Bernard Bass. It addresses three important research questions: How inclusive is Bass's operational definition of leadership? How much of an impact do Bass's leadership competencies have on follower satisfaction? Finally, how important is transformational leadership compared to transactional leadership in government settings? The results indicate that Bass's broad definition of leadership comes quite close to capturing what federal employees perceive to be effective leadership. The relationship between good leadership in an organization and follower satisfaction is also presented as an important outcome in the federal government. Finally, both transactional and transformational leadership are perceived as important in the federal government, although transformational leadership is considered slightly more important even after shifting one important factor, individualized consideration, back to the transactional model. © 2008 The American Society for Public Administration.