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Multilevel transformational leadership and management innovation: Intermediate linkage evidence

Yi-Ying Chang (Department of Business Administration, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology, Taipei, Taiwan)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 4 April 2016



The purpose of this paper is to extend management innovation theory and research by going beyond analysis at a single level. Focussing on management innovation at the lower level in the organizational hierarchy, the authors develop a multilevel framework; in doing so, the authors answer earlier calls for a study of the effects of multilevel transformational leadership (TFL) on management innovation and innovation in general.


This study collected multisource and multilevel data from 169 managers, 423 employees of 141 units from 21 banking service firms in an emerging economy.


The results from hierarchial linear modeling analysis reveal that unit-level TFL was positively related to unit-level management innovation. Furthermore, firm-level TFL was positively associated with firm-level empowerment climate, which in turn enhanced unit-level management innovation. In addition, firm-level empowerment climate strengthened the relationship between unit-level TFL and unit-level management innovation. Finally, the unit-level trust mediates the relationship between firm-level empowerment climate and unit-level management innovation.

Practical implications

Firms operate more effectively when they generate management innovation. To help ensure the effectiveness of management innovation, it is essential that firms, especially those from the banking sector, encourage their managers to engage in TFL behaviors. The managers must consider how to utilize their TFL behaviors to create trusting relationships in order to achieve the organizational goals. Firms can also take steps to develop a supportive climate of higher levels of autonomy, delegation, freedom and task accountability, in order to promote higher levels of trust at the lower levels of the organizational hierarchy.


The current study develops and tests a mediation model that links firm-level TFL to unit-level management innovation, and identifies unit-level trust as the intermediate outcome. With this theorizing and the findings, the authors deepen the current knowledge regarding the organizational implications of TFL behaviors for management innovation.



The author acknowledges the financial support from the Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan (project no. NSC 102-2628-H-011-001-SS3).


Chang, Y.-Y. (2016), "Multilevel transformational leadership and management innovation: Intermediate linkage evidence", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 37 No. 2, pp. 265-288.



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