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Exploring the relationship between leadership and followership of Chinese project managers

Haoran Li (School of Economics and Management, China University of Petroleum (East China), Qingdao, China) (China United Network Communications Group Co., Beijing, China)
Zhenzhi Zhao (School of Economics and Management, China University of Petroleum (East China), Qingdao, China)
Ralf Müller (Department of Leadership and Organizational Behavior, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Jingting Shao (Institute of Industrial Economics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing, China)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 9 January 2020

Issue publication date: 29 May 2020

782

Abstract

Purpose

Followership is the free will recognition of leadership in the commitment toward realization of the collectively adopted organization vision and culture. The purpose of this paper is to identify the relationship between project managers’ leadership and their followership. Most project managers are both leaders and followers at the same time, but research typically investigates only their leadership. This ignores followership as an important aspect in understanding and predicting behavior, and further in the selection of project managers.

Design/methodology/approach

The method used for this paper is the explanatory in nature and a deductive approach, within which the above research hypothesis is tested through quantitative techniques. Data are collected through a nation-wide survey in China. Data analysis was done through factor analysis, canonical correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis.

Findings

The results show that transformational leadership is positively correlated with transformational followership and transactional followership, and that transactional leadership is negatively correlated with transactional followership.

Research limitations/implications

The paper supports a deeper investigation into leadership and followership theories. A model for both leadership and followership is developed. The findings from this paper will guide organizations to choose the project managers.

Originality/value

The originality lies in the new way to examine the relationship between leadership and followership. It is the first study on the relationship of project managers. Its value is new insights, which introduced a new perspective to understand leadership and followership.

Keywords

Citation

Li, H., Zhao, Z., Müller, R. and Shao, J. (2020), "Exploring the relationship between leadership and followership of Chinese project managers", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 13 No. 3, pp. 616-647. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-02-2019-0042

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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