Topics: Leadership, Transactional leadership, Effect size Pages: 63 (17951 words) Published: May 19, 2013
Transformational Leadership and Performance Across Criteria and Levels: A Meta-Analytic Review of 25 Years of Research Gang Wang1, In-Sue Oh2, Stephen H. Courtright1, and Amy E. Colbert1

Group & Organization Management 36(2) 223–270 © The Author(s) 2011 Reprints and permission: http://www. sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav DOI: 10.1177/1059601111401017 http://gom.sagepub.com

Abstract Although transformational leadership has been studied extensively, the magnitude of the relationship between transformational leadership and follower performance across criterion types and levels of analysis remains unclear. Based on 117 independent samples over 113 primary studies, the current metaanalytic study showed that transformational leadership was positively related to individual-level follower performance across criterion types, with a stronger relationship for contextual performance than for task performance across most study settings. In addition, transformational leadership was positively related to performance at the team and organization levels. Moreover, both meta-analytic regression and relative importance analyses consistently showed that transformational leadership had an augmentation effect over transactional leadership (contingent reward) in predicting individual-level contextual performance and team-level performance. Contrary to our expectation, however, no augmentation effect of transformational leadership over contingent reward was found in predicting individual-level task performance. Instead, 1 2

University of Iowa, Iowa City Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond

Corresponding Author: Gang Wang, Department of Management and Organizations, University of Iowa, John Pappajohn Business Building, W252, PBB, Iowa City, IA 52242-1994 Email: gang-wang@uiowa.edu

Downloaded from gom.sagepub.com at PORTLAND STATE UNIV on December 5, 2012


Group & Organization Management 36(2)

contingent reward explained incremental variance in individual-level task performance beyond that explained by transformational leadership. Keywords transformational leadership, meta-analysis, performance The title of Bass’s (1985) seminal book on transformational leadership, Leadership and Performance Beyond Expectations, has garnered much attention over the past quarter century. In his book, Bass contrasts transactional or exchange-based forms of leadership, in which leaders clarify expectations and reward followers for fulfilling them, with transformational leadership, in which leaders motivate their followers to move beyond self-interest and work for the collective good (Avolio & Yammarino, 2002; Bass, 1985; Burns, 1978). Using examples like Mahatma Gandhi and John F. Kennedy, Bass proposed that transformational leaders increase followers’ confidence and the intrinsic value of performance, resulting in higher levels of motivation (Seibert, Wang, & Courtright, in press). Thus, while transactional leadership may lead to expected performance, transformational leadership has the potential to result in performance beyond expectations. As our understanding of different types and levels of performance has become more precise (e.g., Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Klein, Dansereau, & Hall, 1994; Organ, 1988; Yammarino, Dionne, Chun, & Dansereau, 2005), a growing body of research has investigated the range of potential performance implications of transformational leadership. However, despite the abundance of primary studies linking transformational leadership and performance, the current transformational leadership literature does not provide a clear understanding of the generalizability of the “beyond expectation” role of transformational leadership in performance across criterion types and levels of analysis. Meta-analysis can be used to estimate the true magnitude of the role of transformational leadership in performance and its generalizability across studies in several ways. First, at the most basic level, meta-analysis allows...
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