How failure to align organizational climate and leadership style affects performance

Dorthe Døjbak Haakonsson (Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Centre for Organizational Renewal and Evolution, Aarhus, Denmark)
Richard M. Burton (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA)
Børge Obel (Aarhus School of Business, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark)
Jørgen Lauridsen (Institute of Public Health, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 4 April 2008



The purpose of this paper is to investigate how misalignments between the organizational climate (measured as information‐processing demand) and the leadership style (measured as information‐processing capability) may result in negative performance consequences.


The empirical part of the paper is based on questionnaire data. Key informant is the CEO and thus there is a focus on the CEO's perception of climate and leadership style. Data are subjected to regression analysis.


The results indicate that misalignments between climate and leadership style are problematic for organizational performance. This is supported by the empirical findings that show partial support for three out of four hypotheses and full support for the fourth hypothesis.

Research limitations/implications

Data cover information on Danish small‐ and medium‐sized firms. These cross‐sectional data and cannot study the effects of misalignments over time.

Practical implications

Because the findings show that misalignments between climate and leadership style are problematic to organizational level of performance, this implies that in case of misfits either the climate or the leadership style must be changed.


The main contribution of the paper is that the framework allows an explicit understanding of which managerial actions are needed to manage particular types of climate. Further, the framework enables an understanding of how misalignments may result in poor performance.



Døjbak Haakonsson, D., Burton, R., Obel, B. and Lauridsen, J. (2008), "How failure to align organizational climate and leadership style affects performance", Management Decision, Vol. 46 No. 3, pp. 406-432.

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Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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