An employeeship model and its relation to psychological climate: A study of congruence in the behavior of leaders and followers

University dissertation from Department of Psychology, Lund University

Abstract: This doctoral dissertation was driven by an inspiration to study how employees behave toward each other from an interactive perspective where all members of an organization are considered active contributors. Employeeship holds this perspective and acknowledges the importance of productive relationships. The objective of this dissertation is to contribute to the conceptual and methodological development of employeeship. The aims are further to construct and present the Employeeship-Leadership-Relationship Model (ELR) that visualizes the leadership, peer employee, and leader-follower perspectives of employeeship, to present and test two questionnaires by which the ELR Model is operationalized, and to study the behavioral factors of the ELR Model (i.e., vertical leadership behavior, horizontal peer employee behavior, and reciprocal congruent leader-follower behavior) relative to psychological climate. Three studies were conducted of which two were empirical and carried out at Stockholm-Arlanda airport in Sweden. The first empirical study included the apron and passenger services of a ground handling company, tower and ground control of air traffic service, and an airline’s operation division. The second empirical study included the same divisions of the ground handling company and the ground control of air traffic service. The psychological climate was measured with the Creative Climate Questionnaire (CCQ; Ekvall, 1990), the leadership behavior with a modified version (Holmkvist, 2000) of the Leader Effectiveness and Adaptability Description (LEAD; Hersey & Blanchard, 1988), the peer employee behavior with the Your Employeeship Questionnaire (YEQ; Appendix B), and the congruent leader-follower behavior was computed based on the responses from corresponding items of the LEAD and YEQ. In the first study (Paper I) employeeship was contextualized relative to other established organizational concepts. The study further contributed to the conceptualization of employeeship and defined it as the behavior that constitutes the dynamic process of mutual work relationships between two or more employees based on task and social abilities. The study also presented the ELR Model, suitable methods to collect data, and research questions to test the model followed by a discussion of possible strengths and shortcomings. The main concluding remark was that the ELR Model covers the hierarchical perspective of top-down driven leadership, the horizontal perspective of peer employee, and the reciprocal perspective of leader-follower behaviors to be included in the same analysis. The purposes of the first empirical study (Paper II) were to test the ELR Model, the YEQ, and the combination of the LEAD and YEQ. To do so it was hypothesized that the three factors of the ELR Model correlated with selected psychological climate dimensions with which employeeship shares some con¬ceptually central components. It was further hypothesized that congruent leader-follower behavior augmented the value of leadership behavior and its positive correlation with the climate dimensions. The results showed that: 1) there is a relation between the ELR Model’s three factors and the psychological climate, 2) the YEQ measures behaviors relevant to the ELR Model, and 3) congruent leader-follower behavior partly augments the importance of leadership behavior in explaining psychological climate. The second empirical study (Paper III) replicated the analyses of the first empirical study with an amended design that: 1) divided the factors of the ELR Model based on four situational dimensions: individual-success, individual-hardship, group-success, and group-hardship and 2) included follow-up data to determine if the results could be replicated. The aim was to perform a detailed investigation of the ELR Model in order to provide a more complete picture about its applicability. The question was whether the situational dimensions of leadership, peer employee, and congruent leader-follower behaviors were related to the psychological climate. The most important finding was that congruent leader-follower behavior is related to psychological climate with some variations between the situational dimensions. A hierarchical regression analyses also showed that congruent leader-follower behavior augments the importance of leadership behavior and its relationship to psychological climate. The results were partly supported in the follow-up study. The main conclusions were that congruent leader-follower behavior expands leadership beyond the traditional conceptions of formal leadership and subordination in organizational hierarchies, that organizations should use this finding in their training programs and include followers in leadership development, and that the ELR Model can facilitate the understanding of how employeeship works in different work situations where leaders and follower can learn how to support each other to reach congruent behavior.

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