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Leadership style and the process of organizational change

Ann-Louise Holten (Department of Psychology, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark AND; The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark)
Sten Olof Brenner (The National Research Centre for the Working Environment, Copenhagen, Denmark)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 2 March 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to identify processes which may contribute to followers’ positive reactions to change. By focusing on the relationship between change antecedents and explicit reactions, the authors investigate the direct and indirect relationships between leadership styles (transformational and transactional) and followers’ appraisal of change through manager engagement.

Design/methodology/approach

Using data from a longitudinal survey among 351 followers in two Danish organizations, the study tracked the planned implementation of team organization at two different times. Data were analyzed using structural equation modelling.

Findings

Transformational and transactional leadership styles were positively related to the engagement of managers. Managers’ engagement was associated with followers’ appraisal of change. The two leadership styles also had a direct, long-term effect on followers’ change appraisal; positive for transformational leadership and negative for transactional leadership.

Practical implications

The results have potential implications for change management, as followers’ change appraisal may be improved by developing managers’ leadership style and engagement.

Originality/value

This is the first study to provide longitudinal evidence of the direct and indirect effects of leadership styles on followers’ change appraisal.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This research was funded by the Danish Working Environment Research Fund Grant No. 16-2004-09. The authors thank Professor Arnold Bakker for valuable comments on a draft version of the paper.

Citation

Holten, A.-L. and Brenner, S.O. (2015), "Leadership style and the process of organizational change", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 36 No. 1, pp. 2-16. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-11-2012-0155

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited