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Leaders’ commitment to change and their effectiveness in change – a multilevel investigation

Carolin Abrell-Vogel (Institute of Human Resource Development and Change Management, TU Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany)
Jens Rowold (Institute of Human Resource Development and Change Management, TU Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany)

Journal of Organizational Change Management

ISSN: 0953-4814

Article publication date: 7 October 2014

10612

Abstract

Purpose

Followers’ affective commitment to change has been found to constitute a strong predictor of the success of change initiatives in organizations. Several studies have yet shown positive effects of transformational leadership on followers’ commitment to change. However, up to date there is no study examining the direct effects of different transformational leadership behaviors on followers’ commitment to change and the moderating impact of leaders’ commitment to change on these relationships. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses a cross-sectional, multilevel design based on multisource date from 38 teams from different organizations with a total of 177 participating team members. Data of leaders’ and followers’ commitment to change as well as ratings of transformational leadership behavior were captured applying a quantitative approach.

Findings

Results show a significant positive effect of the transformational leadership behavior “individual support” on followers’ affective commitment toward change. Moreover, the transformational leadership behavior “providing an appropriate model” was shown as only positively contributing to followers’ commitment to change when leaders’ own commitment toward change was high.

Research limitations/implications

Due to the multilevel and multisource data, the sample is relatively small which limits the external validity of findings. Also, future studies should invest in longitudinal replication of relationships. Research on leaders’ and followers’ commitment to change should continue to develop more complete models of interacting influence factors.

Practical implications

For team leaders and organizations, results underline the importance of individual support of team members. Thus, leaders need to be enabled to invest individual leadership in the long run. Also, leaders need to become aware of their own commitment toward the change and, going beyond, need to develop a positive bond to the change if they want to be able to act as successful role models.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to existing literature by offering a more detailed insight for researchers and practitioners into the effectiveness of transformational leadership in change by exploring the impact of different transformational leadership behaviors effecting followers’ commitment to change. Moreover, it provides important knowledge about the relevance of leaders’ own commitment to change as a moderator of effective leadership in change.

Keywords

Citation

Abrell-Vogel, C. and Rowold, J. (2014), "Leaders’ commitment to change and their effectiveness in change – a multilevel investigation", Journal of Organizational Change Management, Vol. 27 No. 6, pp. 900-921. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOCM-07-2012-0111

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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