The generalizability of transformational leadership across cultures: a meta-analysis

Marcus Crede (Department of Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa, USA)
Jaehee Jong (Public Administration, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois, USA)
Peter Harms (Culverhouse College of Business, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Publication date: 8 April 2019



The purpose of this paper is to investigate whether the effectiveness of transformational leadership behaviors are moderated by a country’s cultural values and cultural practices.


The authors describe a meta-analytic review of the relationship between transformational leadership and employee performance (task performance and OCBs) using data from over 57,000 individuals, 215 samples and 34 countries. The authors examine whether this relationship is moderated by the cultural values and practices of the country in which the study was located – after first controlling for methodological factors.


The authors find that cultural values and practices moderate the transformational leadership – employee performance relationship such that the relationship is much stronger in countries whose culture is incongruent with transformational leadership.

Research limitations/implications

Data were only available for 34 countries and it is unclear what role industry type and job type play in determining transformational leadership effectiveness or if these situational variables are confounded with culture. The findings call into question the generalizability of transformational leadership across countries and cultures.

Practical implications

The findings suggest that the value of transformational leadership behaviors may be limited in developed economies such as Western Europe and North America, while transformational leadership is most effective in Africa, the Middle East, South America and parts of Southeast Asia.


This is the first paper to examine the generalizability of transformational leadership across 34 countries and is by far the largest review ever conducted into the relationship between transformational leadership and subordinate performance.



Crede, M., Jong, J. and Harms, P. (2019), "The generalizability of transformational leadership across cultures: a meta-analysis", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 34 No. 3, pp. 139-155.

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