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Implicit followership theories from the perspective of followers

Yongyong Yang (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Wendian Shi (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Beina Zhang (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Youming Song (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Dezhen Xu (Department of Psychology, Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai, China)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 12 May 2020

Issue publication date: 30 May 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the structure, implicit attitude and consequences of followers' implicit followership theories in the Chinese cultural context through three studies. Study 1 explores the structure of followers' implicit followership theories. Study 2 examines the implicit attitude of followers towards followers' implicit followership theories. Study 3 verifies the impact of followers' implicit followership theories on the quality of collegial relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

The data for study 1 (n = 321) and study 3 (n = 243) were collected through an online self-report questionnaire, and the data for study 2 (n = 30) were collected through the go/no-go association task.

Findings

The structure of followers' implicit followership theories includes two dimensions: positive followership prototypes and negative followership prototypes. Followers' implicit attitudes were more likely to match positive followership prototypes than negative followership prototypes. Positive followership prototypes had a significantly positive impact on the quality of collegial relationships, whereas negative followership prototypes had a significantly negative impact on the quality of collegial relationships.

Research limitations/implications

The psychology and behaviour of employees can be better understood by exploring followers' implicit followership theories.

Practical implications

Employees hold a relatively positive implicit attitude towards followers. Therefore, managers should provide positive feedback to improve employees' positive self-cognition so that employees can better serve the organization and better promote its development.

Originality/value

The paper is one of the few studies to explore followers' implicit followership theories in the Chinese cultural context.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This study was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Number 31160201).

Citation

Yang, Y., Shi, W., Zhang, B., Song, Y. and Xu, D. (2020), "Implicit followership theories from the perspective of followers", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 41 No. 4, pp. 581-596. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-05-2019-0225

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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