Economic adversity and transformational leadership style: A qualitative study of mid-level managers in public service

by Williams, Anthony M., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2016, 147 pages; 10253004


The qualitative exploratory inquiry examines the perceptions of mid-level managers in public service and their own perceived style of leadership in times of economic adversity. Data was collected using Bass and Avolio’s (2014) Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) as a qualifier to identify those who are predominantly transformational in their leadership approach. Open-ended interviews were then used to interview the target sample population. The target sample population consisted of mid-level managers in local, state, and federal public service who had been managers at least 3 of the last 6 years. The inquiry results were aligned with the research question to investigate how transformational leaders perceive their leadership style during times of adverse economic climates. The study was aligned with five sub-questions to guide the focus of the research: (SQ1) What is the leader’s organizational role, (SQ2) Were there any environmental changes, (SQ3) How was the organizational climate perceived, (SQ4) How does the leader see his leadership, and (SQ5) What is the leader’s impact on his subordinates. The study revealed three key findings. The first revealed that the leaders all described changes in their leadership whether through greater communication or intervening in the day-to-day operations to take on additional workloads. The second result revealed that the participants perceived that external economic factors affected his/her current work environment. The final key finding revealed that the leaders description of the changes in their leadership during times of economic adversity did not reflect their knowledge of the leadership being enacted. The study is limited to public service work environments in times of economic adversity.

AdviserMarc Muchnick
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Public administration; Organizational behavior
Publication Number10253004

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