A study of the effects of leadership style and organisational culture on organisational performance

Judson, Robert Graham (2009) A study of the effects of leadership style and organisational culture on organisational performance. (DBA thesis), Kingston University, .


Although there is considerable anecdotal suggestion that leadership style and organisational culture together influence organisational performance, Allen and Thatcher (1995) and Trice and Beyer (1993) claimed that there was little academic evidence to support this. A review of subsequent literature suggests that this situation has not changed. This view is supported by Block (2002, p.1) who suggests that 'despite numerous references to a relationship between these two constructs in the academic and populare literature, little systematic research has been conducted to examine the specific nature of the relationship'. Whilst there is considerable, research into the individual relationship between narrowly defined aspcts if organisational culture and leadership on organisational performance there is little research into their combined effects. A review of the literature shows none that addressed the variables as generic concepts. The gap in the research forms the aim of this study, which seeks to provide systematic research and empirical evidence into the relationship of different combinations of generically defined leadership style and organisational culture on organisational performance. Following a review of literature, the Blake and Mouton (1985) task versus relationship classification of style and the Deal and Kennedy (1982) risk versus speed of feedback classification of organisational culture were adopted as the most suitable generic feedback classifications of the variables. From a review of the literature, no explicit methodology was found for applying the selected classification method for organisational culture. Similarly, the selected methodology for classifyingleadership style was perceived as being too narrow to be used on its own. To address these issues a mixed methodology was devised and utilised. The mixed method approach employed questionaires, one to one interviews, focus groups and observation. A case study approach was adopted and sought a correlation between different combinations of variables and different levels of performance. The setting for the empirical phase of the study was the UK Building Services Industry and four of the leading organisations, with a range of levels of performance, participated. Analysis of the data collected indicated that; (i) there is an industry specific organisational culture in the selected sector, (ii) that the industry specific organisational culture acts as a constant and not a variable and (iii) that organisational performance is directly related to the leadership style sequence. The findings of the study indicate that the relationship between the leadership style sequence and organisational performance is a function of two imperatives. Firstly for the highest level of performance the leader needs ta have a preferred dominant style which has the maximum concern for task. Secondly the leader needs to maintain this maximum concern for task as he changes style when the dominant or preferred style fails to get the required result. This study contribute to extant literature in several ways. Firstly, by providing an explicit mixed method of applying generic organisational culture and leadership style classifications. Secondly, by confirming the existence of industry specific culture in some sectors and identifying that the industry specific culture in the UK Building Services Industry as the Deal and Kennedy (1982), Work Hard Play Hard Type. Thirdly by identifying that organisational performance is directly related to the leadership style sequence suggested by Blake and Mouton (1985). Finally the study suggests a specific management action plan to improve or maintain organisational performance.

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