Followers’ perceived leadership and their organizational commitment

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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The effectiveness of leadership depends on not only the leader’s behaviour but also the context in which leading takes place and attitudes of followers in leader-member relationships. A research gap still exists in studying antecedents of leader-follower exchanges because the previous studies could not answer how the effect of their chosen determinants of the exchange would change, if considered together with their influence on each other or the order of which factor happens first. In organizational behaviour research, scholars consider leader-member exchange as one factor that determines employee commitment. A similar research gap is seen in studies about employee commitment and its determinants, because many “fit” factors between an employee and his environment have not been studied explicitly together. With the research question of ““How, in a given context, follower’s self-concept, values, needs and ideal image of a leader act as cues for followers to evaluate their leader-follower relationship and organizational commitment?”, this thesis synthesizes a process of how a follower adopts some factors as cues for evaluating the leader-follower relationship and consequently organizational commitment. The data were collected using qualitative method of semi-structured interviews. The empirical results indicate that depending on the position of the follower, the evaluation process of followers about their relationship with leader and organizational commitment differ. For followers who are experienced leaders themselves, followers’ self-identity orientation, value congruence between followers and leaders, along with followers’ needs satisfaction by leader determine the relationship experience, and the experience, in turn, partially determines how committed the individual is. For followers who are non or newly promoted leaders, while idea leader image-actual image comparison acts as determinant of the stage of professionally-judged relationship, follower’s self-identity orientation and value congruence are antecedents of the second stage of emotionally attached relationship. The relationship may still not reach stage-2 yet still influences commitment level of the follower. As theoretical implications, while some findings such as how multiple factors could simultaneously affect leader-member relationships are new discoveries, findings like how position/role of the follower affects the evaluation process are consistent with current opinions of some researchers and provide a clearer explanation of each relationship of the factors. Meanwhile, managerially, company H can use the findings as some insights on how their current leadership situation is seen from the perspective of subordinates. In service business of market research, human resources can be the most valuable asset. Hopefully, based on the insights, the company could find ways to improve their followers’ experience with their leader and eventually reduce turnover of the employees. This thesis is also carried out as part of a large-scale project about organizational commitment in multinational corporations led by Dr. Wei Lu.
Thesis advisor
Lu, Wei
leadership, transformational leadership, commitment, charismatic leadership, followership
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