The MLQ factor structure in a UK context

Gareth Edwards (Bristol Business School, University of the West of England, Bristol, UK)
Birgit Schyns (Durham Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Roger Gill (Durham Business School, Durham University, Durham, UK)
Malcolm Higgs (School of Management, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Publication date: 8 June 2012



The purpose of this paper is to investigate the factor structure of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) in a UK context. For a number of years studies have failed to reproduce the original MLQ factor structure. A paper published in Leadership & Organization Development Journal by Alban‐Metcalfe and Alimo‐Metcalfe in 2000 suggested that, in the UK context, contextually different views on leadership could be prevalent. This paper therefore reports a UK‐specific factor structure.


The paper used a dataset from a recent piece of research on leadership by the first and third authors. The sample consisted of 367 managers from 38 UK‐based manufacturing organisations. The research used multiple ratings that consisted of 366 self‐ratings, 315 superior‐ratings, 238 peer‐ratings and 325 subordinate‐ratings and these ratings covered all levels across participating organisations CEO, MD, directors, senior, middle and lower level management.


The findings uncovered a variant of the MLQ model that comprises active constructive leadership, active management‐by‐exception, and passive avoidant leadership. The findings also lend support to those who suggest that passive management‐by‐exception and laissez‐faire leadership are the same, or a similar, concept and support contingent reward as highly positively correlated with transformational leadership. Particularly interesting is the stand‐alone nature of active management‐by‐exception and which supports claims that there is a different view of leadership in the UK from that held in the USA.


The originality of the paper is based around the understanding of the MLQ in the UK and has produced a model of the full range leadership model that relates to the UK manufacturing context.



Edwards, G., Schyns, B., Gill, R. and Higgs, M. (2012), "The MLQ factor structure in a UK context", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 33 No. 4, pp. 369-382.

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