Structuring versus autocraticness : exploring a comprehensive model of authoritarian leadership

規誨式與專斷式領導 : 建立一個綜合的威權領導模型

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

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Author(s)

  • Tingting CHEN

Related Research Unit(s)

Detail(s)

Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kwok LEUNG (Supervisor)
Award date3 Oct 2011

Abstract

This dissertation seeks to develop a comprehensive model of authoritarian leadership. Specifically, this paper differentiates two types of authoritarian leadership, namely, structuring and autocratic leadership. This model is a major extension of the previous authoritarian leadership framework, and in a broader sense, the controlling leadership literature in that it challenges the prevailing view that authoritarian leadership only has negative effects. The current model proposes that authoritarian leadership, a typical controlling leadership style, includes both positive and negative elements. Autocratic leadership refers to the leadership behaviors characterized by domination over subordinates and the demand of unquestionable obedience, and it is expected to have negative effects on subordinate work outcomes. On the other hand, structuring leadership, a new dimension of authoritarianism proposed in the current model, involves leadership practices of demanding and structuring subordinates' efforts in a task-oriented and rational manner. I propose that this style is conducive to subordinates' high performance and continuous improvement. Two independent studies were employed to examine this two-dimensional authoritarian leadership model. The first study sought to establish a theoretical framework of differentiating the two types of authoritarian leadership. I propose that the difference in subordinate attributions of leader intentionality - whether it has a subordinate-orientation or a self-serving-orientation - accounts for the mechanisms that structuring and autocratic leadership have the opposite effects on subordinate outcomes. A questionnaire survey involving 210 employees and 80 of their immediate leaders supported the hypotheses. Structuring leadership was positively related to subordinate attributions of leader intentionality with a subordinate-orientation, which in turn, was positively related to employee work outcomes (job performance, helping leader, and helping coworkers). On the other hand, autocratic leadership was positively related subordinate attributions of leader intentionality with a self-serving-orientation, which in turn, was negatively related to employee work outcomes. In addition, it was found that achievement value and need for achievement strengthened the positive effects of structuring leadership on subordinate attributions of leader intentionality with a subordinate-orientation, whereas conservation value and traditionality attenuated the positive effects of autocratic leadership on subordinate attributions of leader intentionality with a self-serving-orientation. The second study explored whether the mediating mechanisms differed across the two types of authoritarian leadership and transformational leadership with regard to their influence on employee work outcomes, as well as examined the boundary conditions of the positive effects of structuring leadership. Two mediating variables, trust in leader and role clarity, were examined. A questionnaire survey was conducted involving 242 employees and 53 of their immediate leaders. Statistical results revealed that when the control variables, transformational leadership, structuring and autocratic leadership were all included in hierarchical linear models, transformational leadership was positively related to trust in leader, yet structuring leadership manifested no significant relationship with trust in leader, revealing that compared with structuring leadership, transformational leadership was a stronger predictor of trust in leader. On the other hand, structuring leadership was positively related to role clarity, yet transformational leadership displayed no significant relationship with role clarity, revealing that compared with transformational leadership, structuring leadership was a stronger predictor of role clarity. Finally, autocratic leadership presented a negative relation to trust in leader and no significant relationship with role clarity. The positive indirect effects of transformational leadership on employee task performance and extra effort to leader via trust in leader, the positive indirect effects of structuring leadership on employee task performance via role clarity, and the negative indirect effects of autocratic leadership on employee task performance and extra effort to leader via trust in leader were all supported. Trait conscientiousness was found to be a moderator for the relationship between structuring leadership and trust in leader. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as limitations are discussed.

    Research areas

  • Leadership, Authoritarianism