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Linking transformational leadership and “multi-dimensions” of project success: Moderating effects of project flexibility and project visibility using PLS-SEM

Umer Zaman (Department of Management Studies, Endicott College of International Studies, Woosong University, Daejeon, The Republic of Korea)
Shahid Nawaz (Department of Management Sciences, Islamia University Bahawalpur (IUB), Bahawalpur, Pakistan)
Sidra Tariq (Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Institute of Science and Technology (SZABIST), Islamabad, Pakistan)
Asad Afzal Humayoun (Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS University, Islamabad (Vehari Campus), Pakistan)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 13 May 2019

Issue publication date: 16 January 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Transformational leadership, flexibility and visibility improves project responsiveness to highly unpredictable and impactful events referred as the ‘black swans’ in mega projects (Bloch et al., 2012; Raziq et al., 2018; Zailani et al., 2016). However, these concepts have never been empirically tested in a single framework to determine their significant impact on multi-dimensional project success. The purpose of this paper is to investigate the interactional effects of project flexibility and project visibility on the relationship between transformational leadership and “multi-dimensions” of project success including meeting design goals; impact on customers and benefits to project-based organization.

Design/methodology/approach

Empirical data derived from cross-sectional survey of 160 project managers from telecom intensive companies in Pakistan were used to test the conceptual framework developed from recent literature. Partial least squares-structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) provided detailed analysis of the measurement and structural model. The most recent reflective–formative PLS-SEM approach for higher-order constructs has been introduced.

Findings

The results indicate that project managers’ transformational leadership (β = 0.348, p < 0.01), project flexibility (β = 0.221, p < 0.01) and project visibility (β = 0.366, p < 0.01) are positively related with the multi-dimensional project success (second-order formative) construct. Interestingly, the relationship between transformational leadership and project success is influenced by significantly negative moderations established through project flexibility (β = −0.100, p < 0.01) and project visibility (β = −0.093, p < 0.05).

Research limitations/implications

This study in the telecom sector examined the interactional effects of risk mitigating strategies (i.e. project flexibility and project visibility) on the relationship between transformational leadership and multi-dimensional project success. This study creates a basis for future investigations extending to various project types and relevant to different industries especially those involving higher-order (formative) assessments of project success.

Practical implications

The study findings assist project leaders to meet their escalating commitments in achieving project success from a multi-dimensional standpoint. Additionally, this study underscores a renewed perspective of transformational leadership and project outcomes. Despite prevailing understanding developed through prior research, transformational leadership may become less favorable for project success in conditions of increased flexibility and visibility in projects.

Originality/value

Earlier studies have overlooked the multi-dimensional nature of project success (second-order formative) construct, despite several attempts to examine the interplay between transformational leadership and project success. Based on the knowledge gap and non-existence of empirical evidence, the authors introduced and empirically tested the moderating role of project flexibility and project visibility in the relationship between transformational leadership and multi-dimensional project success.

Keywords

Citation

Zaman, U., Nawaz, S., Tariq, S. and Humayoun, A.A. (2020), "Linking transformational leadership and “multi-dimensions” of project success: Moderating effects of project flexibility and project visibility using PLS-SEM", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 103-127. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMPB-10-2018-0210

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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