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Week 3 Written Assignment
This week’s journal article focuses on attribution theory and how it influences the implementation of innovation technologies.  Two types of employee attributions are noted in the article (intentionality and deceptive intentionality), please review these concepts and answer the following questions:

Provide a high-level overview/ summary of the case study
Note how constructive intentionality impacts innovation implementations
Find another article that adds to the overall findings of the case and note how attribution-based perspective enhances successful innovation implementations.  Please be explicit and detailed in answering this question.

Be sure to use the UC Library for scholarly research. Google Scholar is also a great source for research.  Please be sure that journal articles are peer-reviewed and are published within the last five years.The paper should meet the following requirements:

3-5 pages in length (not including title page or references)
APA guidelines must be followed.  The paper must include a cover page, an introduction, a body with fully developed content, and a conclusion.
A minimum of five peer-reviewed journal articles.

The writing should be clear and concise.  Headings should be used to transition thoughts.  Don’t forget that the grade also includes the quality of writing.

ANNALS, AAPSS, 639, January, 2012 49

This article summarizes literatures on power, status,
and influence in sociology’s group processes tradition
and applies them to issues of diversity in organizations.
Power—defined as the ability to impose one’s will even
against resistance from others—results primarily from
position in a social structure. Influence—defined as
compelling behavior change without threat of punish-
ment or promise of reward—results largely from the
respect and esteem in which one is held by others.
Research identifies status as a foundation of influence
differences in groups and indicates that members of
disadvantaged status groups, such as women and
minorities, will have decreased influence and face chal-
lenges in acquiring and using power. The literature also
suggests solutions to these challenges, including self-
presentation strategies of group motivation and institu-
tional arrangements that support women and minority
group members in powerful leadership positions.

Keywords: power; status; influence; leadership; man-
agement; diversity

Reflecting the changing demographics of American society, organizations in the
United States are becoming increasingly diverse
places to work. Women, for the first time in his-
tory, make up half of the U.S. workforce, up
from about 35 percent of the workforce 40
years ago (U.S. Department of Labor 2009). If
demographic trends continue, nonwhites will
make up half the U.S. workforce by 2050 (Toossi
2006). At the same time, this increasing diver-
sity is not extending to high-level management
positions. In fact, women and minority group
members lost ground overall in representation
in Fortune 500 corporate boards between 2004


Jeffrey W. Lucas is an associate professor of sociology at
the University of Maryland. He carries out basic exper-
imental research on group processes, particularly sta-
tus, power, and leadership.

Amy R. Baxter is a PhD candidate in the Department of
Sociology at the University of Maryland. Her current
research is experimental work focusing on factors that
contribute to the wage and promotion gap between
women and men.

DOI: 10.1177/0002716211420231

Influence, and

Diversity in




and 2010 (Lang et al. 2011). Despite composing only about one-third of the U.S.
workforce, white men hold more than 75 percent of board seats and 95 percent
of board chair positions in Fortune 500 corporations (Lang et al. 2011).

A consequence of inequalities in access to corporate leadership positions is
that it is harder for persons in certain social groups to exercise their will in organi-
zations. In this way, the experiences of women, persons of color, and members of
other disadvantaged groups in organizations are shaped in significant ways by
processes of power and influence. This article summarizes bodies of theory and
research on power, status, and influence—particularly as the concepts are treated
in sociology’s group processes tradition—and discusses their relevance to issues
of management and diversity in organizations.

Power, status, and influence are concepts with multiple treatments, both col-
loquially and in academic literatures. Meanings and uses of the concept power,
for example, vary considerably across academic disciplines and subdisciplines.
The philosopher Bertrand Russell identified power as the most important ele-
ment in the development of any society and its study as the central aim of all
social sciences (Russell 1938). Summarizing the literature on a concept of such
breadth presents obvious challenges. The concepts of status and influence have
similarly varied meanings and treatments. It would be impossible to survey the
full range of treatments of power, status, and influence, and we make no effort to
do so. Rather, we draw from basic research that has defined the concepts in nar-
row and consistent ways.

In colloquial language, power and influence are often viewed as more or less
the same thing: the ability to affect the behavior of others in some intended way.
Alternatively, power and influence are sometimes seen as two parts of the same
process—power as a capacity to change behavior and influence as the practice of
using power to effect behavior change (French and Raven 1959). According to
Wrong (1979), power and influence are used synonymously because of the
absence of a verb form for the term power. We do not argue that these treat-
ments of the concepts are incorrect. Rather, we focus on research that identifies
the concepts more narrowly and as clearly distinct. Power, as defined in the group
processes perspective, is the ability to get what one wants even in the face of
resistance (Markovsky, Willer, and Patton 1987; Weber 1978). Influence is the
ability to get what one wants even in the absence of fear of punishment or prom-
ise of reward (Rashotte and Webster 2005). The theory and research we review
is consistent with these treatments of the concepts. For other treatments, see
Kelly (1994) on power and Manz (1986) on influence.

We first define and discuss the concept of influence. Group processes treat-
ments of influence address it primarily as an outcome of status, another concept
narrowly defined in the tradition. We discuss theory and research on status in
groups, work that has clear relevance to issues of diversity in organizations. We
then discuss theory and research on power in networks. We close with a discus-
sion of how the concepts relate to each other and what the power and influence
literatures together can tell us about managing diversity in work organizations.


Influence in Groups

Power, as typically conceived, is a capacity (Salancik and Pfeffer 1977). It is the
ability to get things done if one chooses. When power is used to get people to do
things, power is often defined as influence (Dahl 1957). Group processes
research, in contrast, treats influence as clearly distinct from power use. Influence
occurs when people perform actions because they have been convinced they are
the right actions to take, not because someone with power told them to do them
(Sell et al. 2004). Consider a supervisor who directs subordinates to fill boxes in
a factory. The subordinates do what the supervisor says because she has power
over them. In contrast, consider a minister who asks members of her congrega-
tion to volunteer to fill boxes for a charity drive. If the members of the congrega-
tion volunteer to fill the boxes, they have been influenced. The minister has little
or no power to direct the behavior of the members of the congregation, but they
do what she wants without promise of reward or fear of punishment. They have
been convinced that the activity is the right thing to do.

As we discuss, power is principally the result of a position in a social structure
(Emerson 1972). The factory supervisor has power because her position gives her
the ability to discipline subordinates who do not comply and reward subordinates
who are especially compliant. Influence results less from social structure than
from status (the respect and esteem in which a person is held by others) (Wagner
and Berger 1993). Below we discuss the most well-developed and widely studied
theoretical account of status processes in groups.

Expectation states and status characteristics theories

Status is a position in a group based on esteem or respect (Berger, Cohen, and
Zelditch 1972; Berger et al. 1977). Although status has a number of outcomes,
influence is perhaps its most fundamental. Those with higher status in groups have
more influence over group decisions than do those with lower status. Expectation
states and status characteristics theory, which resides in sociology’s group processes
tradition, explains the processes by which groups set up and maintain status hier-
archies (Berger, Wagner, and Zelditch 1985; Berger and Webster 2006).

Dating to the 1950s, research currently finds that, initially, status-undifferentiated
task groups organize themselves into hierarchies of prestige (Bales 1950). The
most complete theoretical account of these processes is the expectation states
program of Berger and colleagues. Status characteristics theory (SCT) (Berger et
al. 1977; Berger, Wagner, and Zelditch 1985) links characteristics of an individual
such as gender and race to that person’s rank in a status hierarchy based on the
esteem in which the person is held by self and others. The theory proposes that
members of a task group form expectations about each other’s competence to
contribute to group goals based on each person’s status characteristics. Individuals
expected to contribute more are more highly valued by the group and held in
higher esteem (Webster and Driskell 1978).


Two scope conditions limit the domain of SCT—task orientation and collective
orientation (Berger et al. 1977). Task orientation means that the group is formed
for the purpose of solving some problem. Collective orientation means that group
members consider it necessary to take into account the input of every group
member in solving the problem or performing the task. For all groups that meet
its scope conditions, the theory makes predictions about the process through
which observable status characteristics lead to behavioral inequalities. Many
groups in organizational settings satisfy these scope conditions—a group choos-
ing which candidate to hire for an open position, a committee determining an
incentive system, a team deciding which direction to go on a project, and so on.
Additionally, research has extended the scope of the theory to include individual
performances when individuals anticipate that those performances will have
implications for future group interaction (Lovaglia et al. 1998).

Research on status processes in groups has produced several consistent find-
ings. According to SCT, group members (often outside their conscious aware-
ness) develop expectations for their own performances and those of other group
members. In the theory, these expectations develop based on status characteris-
tics, which are characteristics around which expectations and beliefs come to be
organized (Berger et al. 1977). Examples of status characteristics include race,
gender, education, and task expertise (Webster and Hysom 1998). Individuals in
categories of status characteristics that produce higher expectations for perfor-
mance than those of other group members are held in higher esteem and have
higher positions in the group’s status order (Bienenstock and Bianchi 2004). One
consequence of the status order is that high-status group members are expected
to make more competent contributions to the group. In this way, the status order
of the group becomes self-fulfilling, with the contributions of high-status mem-
bers evaluated as more competent regardless of their objective merit (Walker and
Simpson 2000).

SCT specifies two types of status characteristics. For both, one category is
considered to be more socially desirable and highly valued than another (Simpson
and Walker 2002). A status characteristic is specific if it carries expectations for
competence in a narrow range of situations. Computer programming skills is a
specific characteristic because it leads to expectations for competence only in
limited settings. A characteristic is diffuse if it carries with it expectations for
competence in a wide variety of situations. Age, gender, race, and social class are
examples of diffuse characteristics. In the theory, both types of status character-
istics contribute to determining group members’ relative status by altering expec-
tations for competence that members hold for one another (Berger et al. 1977).
Diffuse status characteristics, however, have a distinct moral component, with
high status on the characteristics being viewed as broadly superior to low status
on the characteristics (Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch 1980).

In SCT, status characteristics produce rank in a status hierarchy through a
chain of four logically connected assumptions (Webster and Foschi 1988). First,
the theory assumes that any characteristic will become salient (i.e., stand out) to


group members if it is known or believed to be related to the task or if it differ-
entiates among the members of the group. Second, the burden-of-proof assump-
tion states that all salient characteristics will be treated as relevant (i.e., used to
develop performance expectations) by group members unless specifically disas-
sociated from the task. Therefore, in a mixed-sex group in which gender operates
as a status characteristic, the theory assumes that gender will be treated as rele-
vant by group members unless it is specifically demonstrated that gender is not
indicative of ability to perform the group’s task. In other words, the burden of
proof lies with showing group members that a characteristic is not relevant to the
group’s task (Berger et al. 1977).

The theory’s third assumption is the formation of aggregated expectation
states. In simple terms, this assumption holds that when group members are
confronted with more than one relevant characteristic, they act as if they com-
bine the expectations associated with each characteristic in developing an overall
performance expectation. The fourth assumption in the link between status char-
acteristics and a group’s status order is the basic expectation assumption.
According to this assumption, a member’s rank in the group’s status hierarchy will
be a direct function of the group’s expectations for that member’s performance.
With this assumption, the status order of the group will be determined by the
aggregated expectation states that each group member has for herself and other
group members.

Dozens of studies over the past four decades have supported the principles of
SCT (for a review, see Kalkhoff and Thye 2006). Research in the theory is primar-
ily carried out in a standard experimental setting. The setting involves partici-
pants at computer terminals being told information about partners on computers
in different rooms. The participants and partners then complete a task together
in which the partner has opportunities to influence the participant. Partners in
these studies are often fictitious, with experimental conditions determining the
partner’s characteristics. Partner influence is treated as an indicator of status. If,
for example, participants with male partners were influenced more than partici-
pants with female partners, it would provide evidence that gender acts as a status
characteristic that advantages men.

Status orders in groups, then, reflect status characteristics of group members,
such as gender and race. Research has identified a number of outcomes of status
processes, including that high-status group members perform more in the group
(e.g., talk more during group interactions), have more opportunities to perform
(e.g., have their opinions solicited more often), and have their performances
evaluated more highly (e.g., get more positive feedback on their suggestions)
than low-status group members (Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch 1980). The
principal behavioral outcome of status is influence; those of higher status play a
bigger role in determining decisions in the group and its members than do those
of lower status (Berger et al. 1977).

A key element of status is that it is relative. Corporate CEOs, for example, do
not have high status in and of themselves, but only in relation to persons in other,


less prestigious positions. It is this relational aspect of status that makes it a group
process. Furthermore, the processes by which individuals set up and maintain
status hierarchies in groups are largely nonconscious (Berger, Wagner, and Zelditch
1985). Individuals tend not to consciously choose to defer to men more than
women, for example, but they do so in a large number of settings (Ridgeway 1993).
And status orders tend to be self-reinforcing; high-status group members are
evaluated more highly because they are high-status. The self-reinforcing nature of
status orders, combined with the fact that status processes tend to operate below
conscious awareness, makes status hierarchies very resistant to change. For exam-
ple, research has found that status orders in an organization’s work groups tend to
match the status characteristics of group members even when those groups have
been in place for extended periods of time (B. Cohen and Zhou 1991).

Gender, race, and status

Substantial evidence indicates that gender and race operate as status charac-
teristics in American society. Despite our society becoming increasingly diverse
by race and ethnicity, contributions from European Americans are still valued
more highly than those from members of other racial and ethnic groups (Lovaglia
et al. 1998). And despite girls and women now outperforming boys and men on
nearly all indicators at every level of education (Freeman 2004), men remain
higher status than women (Ridgeway and Correll 2000). Based on the indicators
of status discussed above—opportunities to perform, performances, performance
evaluations, and influence—the contributions of men and European Americans
are overvalued, whereas contributions from women and minority group members
tend to be devalued or ignored.

Gender is a diffuse characteristic because it carries expectations for perfor-
mance in a wide range of situations (Ridgeway 2004; Wagner and Berger 1997).
Studies repeatedly indicate that gender acts as a status characteristic in the
United States, with men expected to perform better than women on many impor-
tant tasks (Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch 1980; Carli 1991; Pugh and Wahrman
1983). Research shows that men have more influence than women on tasks that
would appear to be gender-neutral and that men tend to receive higher evalua-
tions for their performances than do women, despite the objective merit of those
performances (Eagley, Makhijani, and Klonsky 1992).

Status research additionally finds that women tend to resist taking leadership
positions and that when women do attain leadership based on their own merits,
their positions are often not seen as legitimate (Ridgeway and Berger 1986). For
example, in an experimental study in which a confederate took leadership of a
group by acting in a competent and assertive manner, group members responded
more negatively to female than to male leaders (Butler and Geis 1990). This
study and others indicate that women are not viewed as legitimate occupants of
leadership positions (Johnson, Clay-Warner, and Funk 1996; Lucas 2003).
Reflecting these differences—although more women graduate from college now


than men, and although women make up roughly half of the U.S. workforce—
only about 3 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are women (CNN Money 2010).

Similar to gender, race is a diffuse status characteristic. In the United States,
contributions from European Americans are valued more highly than those from
members of other racial (and ethnic) groups (Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch
1980; Webster and Driskell 1978). For example, employers often rate black
workers and applicants lower than white workers and applicants in various ways
(Bobo and Fox 2003). In one experimental study, members of racial minorities,
in comparison to whites, had to demonstrate higher levels of competence before
participants deemed them to have the ability to successfully carry out a task
(Biernat and Kobrynowicz 1997). And survey research finds that, controlling for
factors other than race, people of color receive lower ratings as leaders than
whites (Knight et al. 2003). In organizational hiring, perceptions of qualifications
interact with race in ways that disadvantage applicants of color (Moss and Tilly
1996). In all of these ways, race/ethnicity is a status characteristic that advantages
European Americans relative to persons in other racial and ethnic groups.

Much of the research in the status characteristics and expectation states tradi-
tion has attended to issues of overcoming status disadvantages. The goal of this
work is to identify how to create situations in which the contributions of all group
members, irrespective of standing on status characteristics, receive proper recog-
nition. We discuss this work below.

Overcoming status disadvantage

As can be seen from the discussion on status processes above, women and
minority group members (as well as others in low-status categories of status char-
acteristics) face disadvantages that can limit advancement in organizations. Even
in the presence of efforts to avoid discrimination in selections for management
positions, for example, status processes can lead to candidates from majority
groups being more qualified for promotions (Lovaglia et al. 2006). Because of the
self-reinforcing nature of status processes, we should expect men and European
Americans, when being considered for promotions, to have higher performance
evaluations from supervisors, higher ratings from coworkers, and histories of
more influence in comparison to otherwise similarly qualified women and non–
European Americans. Status research has indicated strategies, resulting both
from efforts of a person in a disadvantaged social category and from more struc-
tural approaches, that can successfully overcome status inequality.

According to the principle of aggregated expectations in SCT, individuals act
as though they combine the expectations associated with all of each person’s sta-
tus characteristics when developing performance expectations for self and others
(Berger, Rosenholtz, and Zelditch 1980). Note that some status characteristics
are largely or wholly out of a person’s control, whereas others can be changed. To
gain status, individuals can change their standings on status characteristics within
their control. Increasing educational credentials, for example, typically leads to


influence beyond any directly job-related benefits of the acquired knowledge.
The career value of an MBA degree over that of a bachelor’s degree far exceeds
the two-year investment required to complete it. In 2001, after accounting for
tuition and lost compensation while a student, the cash-in-hand value of an MBA
was $550,000 (Davies and Cline 2005). Appearance is another important status
characteristic, with more attractive people accorded higher status than less
attractive people (Umberson and Hughes 1987). How people dress also alters
expectations for their performance in groups, ultimately affecting how much
influence they have (Bunderson 2003).

Research has identified one self-presentation strategy that is particularly effec-
tive for increasing influence in groups, a strategy especially useful for women and
minority group members (Ridgeway 1982). Individuals typically assume that
high-status group members are more oriented toward the interests of the group
than are low-status group members, whom people are more likely to assume are
more selfishly motivated (Wagner and Berger 1997). This is one reason why high-
status persons tend to be leaders in groups; people assume that high-status per-
sons have the interests of the group in mind (Lucas and Lovaglia 2006). Research
shows that presenting one’s contributions as motivated by the interests of the
group works to increase status for persons in disadvantaged status categories
(Ridgeway 1982; Shackelford, Wood, and Worchel 1996). In other words, women
and minority group members can increase their standing in groups by making it
clear that their recommendations and performances are carried out with the best
interests of the group in mind.

There are additional structural changes that can counteract status processes that
disadvantage women and minority group members. Cohen and colleagues, in a
series of studies in educational settings, found that racial and ethnic minorities
attained status as high as majority group members when all group members were
trained to recognize the expertise and contributions of minority group members
(e.g., E. Cohen and Lotan 1995). This research suggests that fostering an environ-
ment in which individuals are encouraged to give proper recognition to perfor-
mances from all group members can work toward reducing status inequalities.

Other research shows that changing institutional arrangements in an organiza-
tion can successfully alter influence patterns that disadvantage individuals with low
states of diffuse status characteristics. Institutional theory proposes that legitimacy
concerns drive much organizational action and that organizations adopt practices
that are taken for granted or institutionalized in their environments (Troyer and
Silver 1999). Lucas (2003) found that when a group structure with women in lead-
ership positions was institutionalized, women as leaders were as influential as men
as leaders. This indicates that strong institutional support for arrangements in
which women and minority group members hold leadership positions can go a long
way toward reducing the resistance they face when in such positions.

Theory and research on status in groups demonstrate how status processes work
to disadvantage persons in social categories accorded low status. In particular, men
and European Americans are more influential in U.S. culture and have their


contributions valued more highly than women and minority group members. One
consequence of these differences is inequality in access to powerful positions.

Power and Social Structure

As discussed above, influence stems largely from the respect and esteem in
which a person is held by others. Power, in contrast, results primarily from a posi-
tion in a social structure (D. Willer, Lovaglia, and Markovsky 1997). In theory and
research in the group processes tradition, power is treated principally as a feature
of social networks (Cook et al. 1983). Like status, power is relative in that one can
have it only in relation to others. For this reason, power is treated as a feature of
an interconnected group of people, typically a group in which resources are con-
tested (D. Willer 1999).

Power in networks

In traditional treatments of the term, power was studied as an attribute of
individual people (Gibb 1969). In particular, the goal of research on power was
to determine what traits, resources, or attributes confer power (Wolfinger 1960).
An early insight in group processes approaches to power was the understanding
that power rests in relationships between people, not in people themselves
(Emerson 1962). For this reason, power is treated as a feature of network

Power is the ability to get what one wants even when others resist (Lovaglia
1999). Treatments of power in disciplines other than group processes often focus
on typologies of power. For example, social psychologists often draw from French
and Raven’s (1959) classic five bases of power: expert power, legitimate power,
referent power, coercive power, and reward power. Group processes work
focuses more narrowly on the capacity to get what one wants; in French and
Raven’s parlance, power in the group processes perspective is a capacity to
engage in coercive power. This narrow treatment of power has facilitated
research on the concept and led to a number of insights, most important of which
is that power results from a position in a social structure. Unlike status, which is
grounded in feelings of respect (and is very similar to French and Raven’s refer-
ent power), power is a result of one’s structural position. Typically, formal rules,
such as those that give authority to supervisors in an organization, grant power to
control the behavior of others.

There are a number of features of social structure that might confer power,
and much of the group processes research has focused on identifying what char-
acteristics of networks give power to some positions versus others. A line of
research in this tradition involves studies that connect experimental participants
in networks in which they compete for resources (Markovsky, Willer, and Patton
1987; Lawler, Thye, and Yoon 2008; Molm, Collett, and Schaefer 2007). Some


argue that central locations in networks are an important basis of power; from
this perspective, positions acquire power when others must go through them to
acquire resources (e.g., Pfeffer 1992). Ultimately, experimental research on
power in networks has identified that it is the ability to exclude actors from
resources they desire, as opposed to centrality or some other feature of network
organization, that primarily confers power in networks (Markovsky, Willer, and
Patton 1987). If a person controls access to resources, that person will have
power. Such power can be seen in …

International Journal of
Business Communication
2015, Vol. 52(4) 452 –478

© The Author(s) 2015
Reprints and permissions:
DOI: 10.1177/2329488415598429


Women Doing Leadership:
Leadership Styles and
Organizational Culture

Robyn C. Walker1 and Jolanta Aritz1

Although women in the United States make up about half of the workforce, only 14.6%
of executive officer positions in the Fortune 500 and 16.9% of Fortune 500 board
of director seats in 2013 were held by women, numbers that have remained flat for
the past decade. Decades after the so-called “feminist revolution,” women are still
struggling to be seen as leaders within organizations even though many have put in place
hiring and recruitment policies to help eliminate this problem. Our study examines this
disparity by observing how leadership emerges and is negotiated in discourse among
male and female participants in decision-making groups in a masculine organizational
culture. First, it identifies whether female participants randomly assigned to mixed-
gender groups emerge as leaders. Second, it analyzes the discourse of those competing
for leadership positions in mixed groups to identify the effects of leadership style on
leader attribution by others. Of the 22 mixed-gender groups (N = 110) that took
part in our study, no woman emerged as the unanimously chosen leader, even though
women were identified as leaders by transcript coders. This article uses a case study
approach to analyze leadership emergence in two mixed groups in which women were
recognized by some members as demonstrating leadership. It then looks at a third
case that demonstrates how some discourse behaviors that have been recognized as
leadership may not be viewed as such in a masculine organizational culture. Study results
illustrate how organizational culture can define accepted ways of “doing” leadership and
affect who is and who is not recognized as a leader, particularly in terms of gender.

turn-taking, leadership communication, gender and leadership, discourse analysis,
interaction analysis

1University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

Corresponding Author:
Robyn C. Walker, University of Southern California, Marshall School of Business, Trousdale Parkway,
ACC 400, Los Angeles, CA 90089, USA.
Email: [email protected]

598429 JOBXXX10.1177/2329488415598429International Journal of Business CommunicationWalker and Aritz

mailto:[email protected]

Walker and Aritz 453

Although women in the United States make up about half of the workforce, only
14.6% of executive officer positions in the Fortune 500 companies in 2013 were held
by women, a number that has remained flat for the past decade (Soares, Bartkiewicz,
& Mulligan-Ferry, 2013). That year, women held only 16.9% of Fortune 500 board of
director seats, the same level as 2012 (Soares et al., 2013). Much has happened since
the women’s movement that arose in the 1960s to better integrate women into the
public sphere, but even after more than 50 years, they still lag behind men in leader-
ship positions. This problem has been tackled by many organizations at the policy
level, by putting in place programs to recruit and promote women, but as the numbers
indicate, this approach has been far from successful.

Our study attempts to better understand this phenomenon by observing how leader-
ship emerges and is negotiated in discourse among male and female participants in
decision-making groups in a masculine organizational culture. It first identifies whether
female participants randomly assigned to mixed-gender groups emerge as leaders.
Second, it analyzes the discourse of those competing for leadership positions in mixed-
gender groups to identify the effects of leadership style on leader attribution by others.

This study attempts to bring together research from two approaches to the study of
leadership: what has been called the “psychological” approach and the discursive
approach. It does so by first asking participants to identify the leaders of their group by
identifying specific communicative traits they observed; we then look at the talk that is
exhibited in the group interaction and how it creates certain leadership styles (Aritz &
Walker, 2014). Ultimately, we are interested in looking at whether and how organiza-
tional culture affects the type of leadership that is recognized in mixed groups of men
and women and how leadership is negotiated within a masculine organizational culture.

Discourse Studies in Leadership and Gender

An increasing body of research is studying leadership by looking at language and
approaching the phenomenon as an act of social constructionism (Alvesson &
Kärreman, 2000; Fairhurst, 2007, 2009). From this perspective, leadership is viewed
in the context of what leaders do and is thus discursive in nature. According to
Robinson (2001), “leadership is exercised when ideas expressed in talk or actions are
recognized by others as capable of progressing tasks or problems which are important
to them” (p. 93). According to Fairhurst (2008), this definition enables us to under-
stand leadership as a process of influence and meaning management that advances a
talk or goal, an attribution made by followers or observers, and a process, in which
influence may shift and distribute itself among several organizational members. “To
wit, leadership is co-constructed, a product of sociohistorical and collective meaning-
making, and negotiated on an ongoing basis through a complex interplay among lead-
ership actors, be they designated or emergent leaders, managers, followers, or both”
(Fairhurst & Grant, 2010, p. 210).

This perspective contrasts with the psychological approach to leadership, which is
prevalent in management studies, particularly in the United States, where a psycho-
logical lens and traditional empiricist methods still dominate (Alvesson & Sveningsson,

454 International Journal of Business Communication 52(4)

2003; Conger, 1998; Fairhurst, 2007; Knights & Wilmott, 1992). The concern of this
approach is with the cognitive or social-cognitive origins of leadership and the percep-
tions they generate with weight given to the mental over the behavioral (Fairhurst,
2007). From this perspective, leadership is seen as residing within the individual and
is often associated with certain personality traits divorced from the organizational

More and more researchers, though, are treating language as a methodological ques-
tion and a window into cultural meanings. A linguistic focus is also enabling scholars to
rethink traditional approaches to business issues and in doing so, to reveal more nuanced
details about how such issues as leadership are “brought off” (Fairhurst, 2007).

Like leadership, gender is a social construct. Gender is different from biological sex.
It is a social patterning that has been created over time and that has been passed down
from generation to generation within a culture. It is learned behavior that we enact each
day to “create” our gendered selves. We do so through our clothing and accessory
choices, our mannerisms, our vocal qualities, the way we walk, and talk, and the things
we say and do, all activities that can be broadly thought of as communication if we
understand that communication is a symbol system that conveys meaning to others
through the process of perception. The meanings associated with specific communica-
tion displays over time have become coded as “male” or “female” and have thus created
stereotypes that we rely on in order to make meaning of our environment.

Social constructionist theory contends that there are mainstream discourses of
“gender difference” circulating in Western culture (e.g., Cameron, 2006; Sunderland,
2004), with the effect that the biological category of “men” is positioned to speak and
behave in ways stereotypically coded as “masculine,” while “women” are positioned
to speak and behave in ways coded as “feminine,” even though individuals can and do
resist such stereotypical positioning.

Elements of Talk: Latching, Overlaps, and Questions

Discourse studies have thus focused on how features of talk are coded as feminine or
masculine. For example, Coates (1996) found that women tend to construct talk jointly
and that the group takes priority over the individual as women’s voices combine to
construct a shared text. Utterances are often jointly constructed; in other words, speak-
ers often cooperate to produce a chunk of talk. In addition, Coates observed that women
friends often combine as speakers so that two or more voices may contribute to talk at
the same time. This kind of overlapping speech is not seen as competitive, as a way of
grabbing a turn, because the various contributions to talk are on the same theme.

Women’s talk is also characterized by the frequent use of questions whose main
function is interactive rather than information seeking (i.e., the question, “there are
limits aren’t there?” checks that a shared perspective obtains and does not expect an
answer except perhaps for “yeah” or “mhm”; Coates, 1996).

While women’s voices combine and overlap, men take turns to hold court. Male
friends prefer a one-at-a-time pattern of talking, with one speaker holding the floor for
an extended period at any one time; overlapping speech is avoided and is viewed as

Walker and Aritz 455

contentious for seeking the floor. In terms of questions, men use them to seek informa-
tion from each other, taking it in turns to play the expert. Table 1 below identifies
widely cited characteristics of “male” and “female” talk.

Elements of Talk: Amount of Talk

In more formal situations, the majority of studies find that men talk more than women.
This outcome has been attributed to status characteristics theory, which focuses on
how status differences organize interaction (Capella, 1985; Slater, 1966; Stein &
Heller, 1979). According to this theory, individuals involved in social interactions
evaluate themselves relative to the other individuals involved and come to hold expec-
tations as to how and how well they will perform in relation to every other participant
in the interaction (Capella, 1985; Slater, 1966; Stein & Heller, 1979). These “self-other
performance expectations” provide the structure of the interaction, which then deter-
mines the subsequent interaction.

Research has shown that those with higher status participate more in task-oriented
dyads or groups than those with lower status (Capella, 1985; Slater, 1966; Stein &
Heller, 1979). Since men have traditionally held higher status than have women, one
would expect men to talk more in task-oriented or instrumental situations.

Elements of Talk and Leadership Style

In our research on leadership styles (Aritz & Walker, 2014), we found that overlaps
and questions were also used differently by different types of leaders (see Table 1). A
directive leader uses questions to direct agreement on interaction participants, does not
link his or her comments to the previous speaker’s statement, and makes abrupt topic
shifts as well as uses minimal active listening techniques and tends to interrupt other
speakers. Our research has indicated that those using the directive style often talk sig-
nificantly more than others participating in the interaction. As such, the directive lead-
ership style shares many of the common elements of what Coates has identified in
masculine gendered talk.

Table 1. Widely Cited Characteristics of “Feminine” and “Masculine” Styles.

Feminine Masculine

Indirect Direct
Conciliatory Confrontational
Facilitative Competitive
Collaborative Autonomous
Minor contribution (in public) Dominates speaking time publicly
Supportive feedback Aggressive interruptions
Person/process-oriented Task/outcome-oriented
Affectively oriented Referentially oriented

Source. Adapted from Holmes and Stubbe (2003).

456 International Journal of Business Communication 52(4)

In contrast, a cooperative leader uses questions to solicit information or participa-
tion from others, acknowledges the position or statement of previous speakers, avoids
abrupt topic shifts, uses active listening techniques, and uses cooperative overlaps to
show her support of other’s ideas. Our research indicates that those using a coopera-
tive leadership style significantly reduce the imbalance of talk between leader and
followers. Because of this as well as the use of questions and cooperative overlaps of
this type of leader, this style is more in line with Coates’s description of feminine talk.

A third leadership style, collaborative, is also known as “distributed leadership,”
which is defined as a property that emerges in team situations in which influence is
distributed across multiple team members (Carson, Tesluk, & Marrone, 2007). In this
style, participants use questions to frame the interaction and to check for agreement
among members, acknowledge some of the contribution of others but more commonly
build on other’s statements producing smooth topic shifts, even though these contribu-
tions may overlap with those of others.

Organizational Culture and Communities of Practice

Workplace settings play a critical role in the construction and enactment of members’
social identities. Organizations are “minicultures” that provide “sources and sites of
identification for individuals” (Aaltio & Mills, 2002; Jenkins, 1996). More specifi-
cally, organizations contribute to the construction of member identities in at least two
ways: They classify members into roles that have particular meanings and they develop
discursive norms from which members draw to interact with others (Schnurr, 2009).
Through these processes, organizations create leaders and subordinates.

Each organizational culture is different in the norms they provide to individuals to
construct their roles. Hofstede (1980, 1998) describes masculine and feminine national
cultures as representing the sex role pattern that is dominant in a given society and
further suggests the masculinity-femininity dimension of a nation’s culture is reflected
by organizations within that culture. Masculine cultures, such as Japan and Italy,
emphasize the need for men to be successful breadwinners or be viewed as failures,
and relatively few women occupy higher paying executive and top management posi-
tions. In Hofstede’s typology, American culture is considered moderately high in

In feminine cultures, such as Sweden and the Netherlands, it is the norm for both
men and women to pursue higher paying careers, and both males and females receive
cultural support for prioritizing family time over time spent on the job. The women in
higher level positions in these cultures are not necessarily expected to be assertive or
to display the qualities and behaviors that are considered traditionally masculine
(Hofstede 1980). Lyness and Kropf (2005) found that nations characterized as having
feminine cultures tend to have organizational cultures that support work and family

American organizations typically are characterized by a competitive, masculine
organizational culture, which aligns with our “masculine” national culture. This orga-
nizational culture values respect for authority, competition, individualism, indepen-
dence, and task orientation (Loden, 1985; Maier, 1999). Authoritarian management

Walker and Aritz 457

practices, respect for hierarchical structures, and adherence to chain-of-command are
emphasized. Other values associated with a competitive organizational culture are
assertive and aggressive behavior toward external or internal competitors and empha-
sis on individual, extrinsic rewards.

Supportive, feminine organizational cultures value and respect participation, col-
laboration, egalitarianism, and interpersonal relationships (Maier, 1999). There is less
emphasis on hierarchical control; the supportive organizational culture focuses on
group rather than individual rewards and places less emphasis on extrinsic rewards
relative to intrinsic rewards (Loden, 1985). The cultural values associated with a sup-
portive culture promote a balance of career and family roles, while competitive orga-
nizational cultures value commitment to the organization and the expectation that an
employee’s career should be given priority over other roles (Maier, 1999).

In contrast to organizational culture, discourse researchers have used the concept of
communities of practice as a means of identifying the linguistic strategies members
use to negotiate organizational identity. A community of practice is an aggregate of
people who come together around mutual engagement in some common endeavor.
Ways of doing things, ways of talking, beliefs, values, power relations—in short, prac-
tices—emerge in the course of their joint activity around that endeavor (Eckert &
McConnell-Ginet, 1992). A community of practice is different as a social construct
from the traditional notion of community, primarily because it is defined simultane-
ously by its membership and by the practice in which that membership engages. It is
the practices of the community and members’ differentiated participation in them that
structures the community.

Speakers develop linguistic patterns as they engage in activity in the various com-
munities in which they participate. In actual practice, social meaning, social identity,
community membership, forms of participation, the full range of community prac-
tices, and the symbolic value of linguistic form are being constantly and mutually
constructed (Eckert & McConnell-Ginet, 1992). The linguistic practices of any given
community of practice are continually changing as a result of the many features that
come into play through the interaction of its multiple members. In particular, organiza-
tions “provide a repertoire of procedures, contracts, rules, processes, and policies” that
are then incorporated by the various communities of practice “into their own practices
in order to decide in specific situations what they mean in practice, when to comply
with them and when to ignore them” (Wenger, 1998, p. 245). Leaders and other orga-
nizational actors draw on this linguistic repertoire as well as the norms and values of
their workplace culture to produce their discursive behaviors.

Workplace culture is thus a “communicative construction” that is “created and rec-
reated as people interact over time” (Modaff & DeWine, 2002, p. 88). It is a system of
shared meanings and values as reflected in the discursive and behavioral norms typi-
cally displayed by members that distinguishes the group or organization from others.
It should be noted that organizations may be made up of multiple subcultures that may
“co-exist in harmony, conflict, or indifference to each other” (Frost, Moore, Louis,
Lundberg, & Martin, 1991, p. 8). Workplace culture contributes significantly to the
establishment of norms and expectations about leadership by defining what competent

458 International Journal of Business Communication 52(4)

and effective leadership means (Hickman, 1998; Schein, 1992). The relationship
between workplace culture and leadership, though, is complex in that leaders them-
selves also play an important role in the creation, maintenance, and change of work-
place culture (Neuhauser, Bender, & Stromberg, 2000; Parry & Proctor-Thomson,
2003; Schein, 1992).

Gender is also produced and reproduced in differential forms of participation in
particular communities of practice. Women tend to be subordinate to men in the work-
place; for example, women in the military have not traditionally engaged in combat,
and in the academy, most theoretical disciplines are overwhelmingly male with women
concentrated in descriptive and applied disciplines that “support” theorizing. The rela-
tions among communities of practice when they come together in overarching com-
munities of practice also produce gender arrangements.

Holmes (2006) has shown that effective leaders are able to draw expertly on a rep-
ertoire of linguistic strategies stereotypically coded as masculine and feminine. The
critical component, though, in determining their overall effectiveness is how actors are
positioned by their community of practice. Like linguistic strategies, a community of
practice can be either feminine, that is, supportive and team oriented, or masculine,
competitive, and individualistic.

Mullany (2007) found numerous examples in her studies of management meetings
whereby males use cooperative strategies and females use competitive strategies,
depending on the community of practice in which they were situated. She argues that
theorists should take greater account of the norms and conventions of different com-
munities of practice, as well as institutional status, role, and corporate discourses, in
order to achieve a more finely grained understanding of how different business com-
munities “do leadership.”

This study thus takes up Mullany’s call by using a discursive lens to analyze the
different communication patterns used in mixed-gender groups to negotiate leader-
ship. It will identify the main leadership communication styles that emerged in small
groups of business professionals and will then focus on the community of business
professionals to see which styles were recognized as leadership attempts and which
participants were identified as leaders by team members of these mixed groups.

Participants and Data Collection

All participants (N = 110) involved in the study were business professionals enrolled
in an MBA program at a private university in Southern California with an average of
10 years of work experience. Participants were randomly assigned to groups of four to
six persons each. This random division resulted in 22 mixed-gender teams.

The simulation used in the study, Subarctic Survival, asked each group to take the
role of airplane crash survivors. Groups were then asked to discuss and ultimately
agree on the ranking of items salvaged from the aircraft in terms of their critical func-
tion for survival. Although some may argue that this simulation will more likely call
men to a leadership role because it involves an outdoor survival situation, we did not
deem this a problem since the situation matches the masculine organizational culture

Walker and Aritz 459

in which the participants were involved, an MBA program located within a business
school where both male faculty and students dominate, and aggressive, individualistic
behaviors are encouraged and rewarded. The meetings were 20 minutes in length and
were held and videotaped in an experiential learning laboratory equipped with profes-
sional facilities and technicians. The meetings were held in English, and the video-
tapes were then transcribed.

In order for participants to identify the leader of each group, we developed a commu-
nication style–oriented measure of leadership attribute preference using six global leader
behaviors identified by the GLOBE Research Program—Charismatic/Value-based lead-
ership, Team-Oriented leadership, Participative leadership, Autonomous leadership,
Humane-Oriented leadership, and Self-Protective leadership (House et al., 2004).1 Based
on the definition of these six global leader behaviors (Dorfman, Hanges, & Brodbeck,
2004), we derived five communication styles that we used to measure leadership. We col-
lapsed two separate GLOBE categories, Team-Oriented and Participative leadership, into
one category “Involved other in decision-making process” based on the communicative
moves that the leadership style would exhibit. The five communication styles that were
derived were (1) decisive and task oriented; (2) involved others in the decision-making
process; (3) modest, compassionate, and supportive; (4) independent and self-reliant; (5)
status conscious and procedural. Participants were asked to complete this measure after
participating in the simulation, since it was believed that a trait-oriented approach to lead-
ership (as opposed to a discursive one) would be easier for them to apply. We used the
results to identify the perceived leader of each team.

We also reviewed the transcripts to identify the leaders using discourse methods
involving number of turns, turn length, and use of questions. Using these characteris-
tics, three persons reviewed the transcripts and identified each member as a leader, a
nonleader, or a transitory leader. (A transitory leader exhibits leadership behaviors at
various times during an interaction and may share leadership with others. As such, this
style of leadership more generally conforms with our collaborative leadership style.)
The results were then compared to ensure intercoder reliability.

Methodology for Transcript Analysis

Two methods of analysis were used to interpret the transcript data: turn-taking patterns
and interaction analysis. Both methods focus on a turn as the main unit of analysis to
observe how contribution changes when multicultural groups involved in decision
making are subject to different leadership styles. Turn taking is defined as the ordering
of moves that involves the interchange of talking by speakers (Johnstone, 2002).

First, we used turn taking to analyze conversational interaction and to examine dif-
ferent leadership styles and group dynamics. Our specific method of analysis of turn
taking is based on a model developed by Coates (1993) to analyze the management of
naturally occurring interactions in which she describes cooperative and competitive
conversation styles in gendered talk.

As alluded to earlier, Coates’s (1993) model of analysis focuses on the following
areas: (1) The meaning of questions—are they direct in purpose or used indirectly to

460 International Journal of Business Communication 52(4)

facilitate conversation? (2) Links between speaker turns—does the speaker acknowl-
edge the contribution of the previous speaker or talk on the topic without acknowledg-
ing that contribution? (3) Topic shifts—are they abrupt or do speakers build on each
other’s contributions? (4) Listening—is the speaker using backchannels or latching?
and (5) Simultaneous speech—do the speakers overlap by elaborating on the previous
contribution or does the contribution of the second speaker contradict or disrupt that
of the first speaker?

These interactional elements are used to analyze how their combination affects the
emergence of leadership within groups of business professionals. We followed
Schiffrin (1994) and used her transcription conventions (Schiffrin, 1987; see the
appendix) based on an earlier version of transcript notations by Jefferson (1979) to
transcribe our data. Since we did not focus on gaze or vocal qualities in our analysis,
we felt that Schiffrin’s conventions better served our needs. We did not include non-
verbal clues, such as gaze and gestures, in our analysis because our focus was on lan-
guage and the unit of analysis was limited to a turn as a vehicle to construct leadership
in talk. Nonverbal elements may provide additional insights into our understanding of
leadership, but they fell beyond the scope of this study.

Second, we used an interaction analysis approach, which involves the categoriza-
tion of discourse units according to a predefined set of codes (Bakeman & Gottman,
1986). It is a quantitative approach to discourse analysis that draws from message
functions and language structures to assess the frequency and types of verbal interac-
tion. More specifically, we tracked member contribution by looking at three variables:
the number of turns taken, number of words spoken, and the average turn length. We
calculated the number of turns taken by looking at how many times a participant spoke
in any given meeting. Turn length was used as another variable to measure member
contribution. We measured an average turn length by dividing the total number of
words spoken by each speaker by the number of turns they took. We selected a quan-
titative approach as a secondary method so as to more fully illuminate the findings
from our qualitative analysis.

Findings and Analysis

In the 22 mixed-gender teams, no woman emerged as the unanimously chosen leader
by team members. However, in two teams, women were selected by group members
as showing leader attributes. This finding contrasts sharply with the results of the dis-
course analysis and the identification by three coders who identified eight women
emerging as leaders of their respective groups, while in another six groups, women
shared leadership with other women or men as transitory leaders. Of the remaining
eight groups that were involved in the study, male leaders were identified in five and
as sharing leadership in …

Journal of Leadership &
Organizational Studies
19(2) 142 –151
© Baker College 2012
Reprints and permission:
DOI: 10.1177/1548051811433358

Power in organizations can be interpreted as the potential
influence that one individual exhibits over another (Emer-
son, 1962; Pfeffer, 1992; Weber, 1947), and its study has
intrigued scholars for decades. Sociological research
focused on structural and authority/position-related expla-
nations represented early attempts to explain hierarchical
power (e.g., Emerson, 1962; Pfeffer & Salancik, 1978).
However, much has remained to be understood about how
individuals acquire power in organizations, when such
power is not prescribed by hierarchical level or position that
is formally designated (Brass & Burkhardt, 1993).With
regard to leader–follower relationships, it is typical to think
that leaders hold more power over their followers (Mintz-
berg, 1983; Weber, 1947) because of the traditional hierar-
chy of authority in bureaucratic organizational structures.
However, there are certainly cases where the opposite is
true (Mechanic, 1962; Pfeffer, 1992, 2010).

Differences in power between leaders and followers repre-
sent significant issues for leader–follower attitudes, behavior,
and work relationships, though little direct empirical research
has been conducted to investigate the phenomenon (e.g., Ferris
et al., 2009; Ragins & Dutton, 2007). This is rather surprising
in light of the recent research attention focused on both the
nature of work relationships and on shared leadership, power
sharing between leaders and followers, and empowerment
(e.g., Graen, 2009; Pearce & Conger, 2003). Power is an

important consideration because most researchers implicitly
assume that leader–follower relationships are entered into, and
maintained, by both parties volitionally (Rousseau & Schalk,
2000), which may not always be an accurate assumption.
Furthermore, despite its recognized importance in the organi-
zational sciences, power has remained under investigated in
leader–follower relationships.

Therefore, the major objective of the present study is to
examine the effects of power levels perceived by leaders and
followers on central aspects of their work relationships (i.e.,
work relationship quality and job tension). As such, this
investigation attempts to make contributions to the leader-
ship, social power, and work relationships literatures.

Theoretical Foundations and Hypothesis
A model of power in dyadic relationships is presented in
Figure 1, which specifies that leader power affects work

433358 JLOs19210.1177/1548051811433358Martin
ez et al.Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies
© Baker College 2012

Reprints and permission: http://www.

1Illinois State University, Normal, IL, USA
2Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL, USA
3Florida Department of Children and Families, Tallahassee, FL, USA

Corresponding Author:
Arthur D. Martinez, Illinois State University, 250 College of Business
Building, Campus Box 5580, Normal, IL 61790-5580, USA
Email: [email protected]

Power in Leader–Follower Work

Arthur D. Martinez1, Rachel E. Kane2, Gerald R. Ferris2,
and C. Darren Brooks3


There is perhaps no more important dyadic relationship than that between a leader and a follower. Nonetheless, few studies
examine the implications of both leader and follower power on important work outcomes. Therefore, using resource
dependence and role theories, the authors examined the process by which leader power affects important work outcomes,
namely, work relationship quality and job tension, through met relationship expectations. Additionally, the authors suggest
that the leader power–met expectations relationship is conditional on follower power. A state agency was sampled to obtain
and analyze 100 leader–follower work relationship dyads, whereby both dyadic partners were surveyed. Results indicated
that leader power affected both leader–follower relationship quality and job tension through followers’ met relationship
expectations. However, contrary to our hypothesis, the leader power–met expectations relationship was not conditional
on follower power. Contributions of this study, strengths and limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.


leader–follower dyads, power, work relationships

Martinez et al. 143

relationship quality and employee well-being (i.e., job ten-
sion) through followers’ met expectations of the leader–
follower relationship. In addition, the model suggests that
the effects of leader power on followers’ met expectations
are moderated by the follower power, emphasizing the con-
ditional nature of the relationship.

Leader Power
There is perhaps no more important dyadic relationship
than that between a leader and a follower (Ferris et al.,
2009), and within such relationships, power and power
dynamics are routinely at play and fundamentally inter-
twined. Power stems from the notion of resource depen-
dence, which maintains that the power of Person A over
Person B is determined by the extent to which Person B is
dependent on Person A for resources that are necessary for
Person B to meet his/her needs, desires, and goals (Blau,
1964; Emerson, 1962, 1964).

The resource dependency perspective of power views
social power as an attribute of social relations and structures
not as an attribute of a person making up the relationship
(Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Within organizations, leaders
(supervisors) are traditionally considered to hold more
power over their followers (subordinates; Weber, 1947),
and followers are assumed to be at least partly dependent on
their leaders for both tangible resources (e.g., supplies) and
intangible resources (e.g., self-verification, instrumental
support; Farmer & Aguinis, 2005).

This common conceptualization of where power and
dependence lie within the leader–follower relationship is
likely spawned from individuals’ expectations concerning
the roles characteristic of both leaders and followers. Early
research on roles suggests that a portion of individual
behavior can be explained by the roles one is perceived to
hold and by one’s accompanying beliefs about such roles
(Merton, 1957). Within the organizational context, role the-
ory posits that leaders and followers engage early on in a
role-making process; within such a role-making process,

both dyad members develop beliefs concerning the capabili-
ties of the other dyad member, as well as about the outcomes
expected from the relationship (Graen & Scandura, 1987;
Tsui, 1984; Young & Perrewé, 2000). Furthermore, followers
are considered members of their leader’s “role set,” which
suggests that they interact, share interests with, and hold
expectations of their leader (Katz & Kahn, 1978).

Although there are a wide range of qualities, attitudes,
and behaviors likely to define the typical and ideal role of a
leader, we suggest that followers should expect their leaders
to be in possession of, among many things, power. We
hypothesize that the notion of leaders being in possession of
power coincides with many followers’ beliefs about the
requirements and characteristics of a successful leader. This
is to say that not only is power typically associated with
those individuals in a hierarchical position to lead, but it is
also likely considered a component necessary for the leader
to be capable of fulfilling the dependencies of followers, be
they tangible or intangible. Furthermore, power imbalances
and power differential are traditional of, and to be expected
of, relationships that span hierarchical levels. As such,
based on role theory, we suggest that leader power is posi-
tively related to follower met expectations. Therefore, the
following hypothesis is posited:

Hypothesis 1: Leader power is positively related to
follower met relationship expectations.

Leader Power Effects Moderated by Follower Power
Although early research on power focused intently on the
bases of power (French & Raven, 1959), positional and
structural determinants of power (e.g., Pfeffer, 1981), and/
or personal characteristics that are influential in acquiring
power (e.g., political will; Mintzberg, 1983), very little
research has examined the interplay of both leader and fol-
lower power simultaneously. Nonetheless, we believe that
considerations of leader power and their effect on follow-
ers’ met expectations are incomplete without considering
the power standing of the follower.

In this support of this notion, research on mentoring sug-
gests that a protégés’ met expectations of their relationship
with their mentors have little to do with the amount of sup-
port received from the mentor and more to do with the
extent to which sufficient support is provided based on what
the protégés expect and require (Young & Perrewé, 2000).
Thus, we suggest that follower power acts to decouple the
relationship between leader power and met relationship
expectations. More specifically, we suggest that powerful
followers expect and need of less support from their leaders
than do nonpowerful followers, as they are capable of pro-
curing some of their own resources, be they tangible or not.

Furthermore, although the resource dependence perspec-
tive of power maintains that followers (i.e., subordinates)






Follower Power

Job Tension

Figure 1. Model of leader–follower work relationships

144 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)

are dependent on their leaders (i.e., supervisors) for tangible
and intangible resources (Farmer & Aguinis, 2005), followers
who are themselves powerful are less likely to be dependent
on their leaders for the fulfillment of both physical and psy-
chological resources. In other words, followers who possess
their own power are able to, in a sense, break their depen-
dence on their leader. Finally, a substantial body of research
suggests that outcomes of work relationships (e.g., relation-
ship quality, satisfaction) depend on the characteristics of both
dyad members, not just one or the other (e.g., Kane, Martinez,
Treadway, & Ferris, in press; Tsui, Xin, & Egan, 1995).

In mutually powerless dyads, relationship benefits and
costs will be low because there will be few valued goods to
exchange and little reason to make offers (Blau, 1964).
When both persons are powerful, relationship benefits will
be high as plenty of valued social rewards will be available
for exchange (Blau, 1964). Also in mutually powerful
dyads, costs will tend to be moderate because the other’s
high demands may be tempered with one’s own power to
resist them (Emerson, 1962).

Taken together, we suggest that the positive relationship
between leader power and follower met relationship expec-
tations is conditional on follower power. More formally, we
hypothesize the following:

Hypothesis 2: Follower power will moderate the
positive relationship between leader power and
follower met expectations, such that for higher
(lower) power followers, the positive relationship
between leader power and follower met expecta-
tions will be stronger (weaker).

Met Relationship Expectations and Work
Relationship Quality
Work relationship research in the organizational sciences is
heavily influenced by leader–member exchange (LMX)
theory (Ferris et al., 2009; Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). LMX
theory postulates that dyadic relationship quality is based
on mutual respect for each other’s capabilities, mutual trust,
and reciprocal obligations. Capabilities are potential
exchange goods that become actual exchange goods when
they are respected and valued by others. Likewise, trust and
obligations are social exchange goods themselves, much
like credit. Hence, work relationship quality is determined
by the exchange of social goods, such as valued capabili-
ties, trust, and obligations.

Borrowing from the mentoring literature, research has
found that mentors who engage in prototypical mentoring
behavior inspire greater perceptions of relationship effec-
tiveness as well as increased trust from their protégés
through met relationship expectations (Young & Perrewé,
2000). Therefore, the following hypothesis is put forward:

Hypothesis 3: Follower met relationship expectations
are positively related to follower work relationship
quality perceptions.

Met Relationship Expectations and Job Tension
Of both practical and theoretical import, researchers have
frequently examined both antecedents and outcomes of job
tension (Meurs & Perrewé, 2011). Job tension is defined as
stress arising from work-related experiences (Kahn, Wolfe,
Quinn, & Snoek, 1964) and is commonly measured with
the job tension scale developed by House and Rizzo (1972).
Not surprisingly, research suggests that as compared with
low levels of tension, high levels of tension result in more
dysfunctional organizational outcomes (e.g., job dissatis-
faction, intent to turnover; Cropanzano, Howes, Grandey,
& Toth, 1997; House & Rizzo, 1972). Research has also
found that sources of job tension include a variety of role
stressors, including work overload, role conflict, and role
ambiguity (e.g., Frone, 1990; O’Driscoll & Beehr, 1994).
Taken together, research provides general support for a
“less is more” view of job tension.

Meta-analytic research on met expectations, although
somewhat concentrated within the mentoring and realis-
tic job preview literatures, suggests that met expectations
is positively associated with job performance, job sur-
vival, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction
(Wanous, Poland, Premack, & Davis, 1992). Similarly,
more recent research has found that any form of unmet
expectations results in dysfunctional organizational out-
comes (e.g., job dissatisfaction; Irving & Montes, 2009).
As such, a lack of discrepancy between what one expects
and what one experiences has consistently resulted in
more positive (and less negative) attitudinal and behav-
ioral workplace outcomes.

As an extension of the workplace outcomes examined in
relation to met expectations, we hypothesize that followers’
met relationship expectations concerning their leader’s
power should be negatively associated with job tension. We
argue that those followers who perceive their leader to be in
possession of power are in a sense reassured that their leader
is capable of fulfilling the traditional role of leader. In addi-
tion, such power in the hands of a leader was argued above
to allow the leader to fulfill the follower’s resource depen-
dencies. Consequently, the leader’s ability to fulfill both
tangible and intangible needs of a follower should reduce
the amount of stress a follower experiences arising from
work experiences in general, and from their leader–follower
dyadic relationship, in particular. Hence, the following
hypothesis is proposed:

Hypothesis 4: Follower met relationship expectations
are negatively related to follower job tension.

Martinez et al. 145

Participants and Procedure
A total of 360 leader–follower dyads from a large south-
eastern state government agency were invited to participate
in the online survey study. Furthermore, 180 supervisors
were selected to answer questions about two of their subor-
dinates. The agency provided a list of all leaders/supervi-
sors from selected departments (i.e., departments within a
particular city) who supervised at least two followers/sub-
ordinates, and all of those leaders/supervisors were invited
to participate. A review of the job titles of participants
indicated that most of the management staff consisted of
frontline supervisors, and a much smaller set were the
middle managers who supervised the frontline managers.

The employees being supervised were administrative,
computer programming, or social service staff. Leaders had
to supervise at least two employees to be considered in the
study, and the span of control typically ranged from 2 to 12
direct reports. For each leader/supervisor, only two of his or
her followers/subordinates were chosen at random in order
to minimize nonindependence concerns. Both leaders and
followers were asked to provide their names on the surveys
in order to match their responses for subsequent analyses.
Confidentiality was maintained by deleting respondent
names after matching.

Leaders completed surveys for 218 of their followers,
resulting in a 60.6% leader response rate, and 150 followers
completed surveys, resulting in a 41.7% follower response
rate. After combining leader and follower responses, there
were a total of 100 useable dyads, resulting in a net response
rate of 27.8%. Within dyads, 68% of the followers and 52%
of the leaders were female. The average follower’s age was
49.5 years, and the average leader’s age was approximately
the same (i.e., 50.2 years). Also, 71.0% of the followers and
62.7% of the leaders self-identified as White, 0.0% of the
followers and 20.3% of the leaders self-identified as
Hispanic, 23.0% of the followers and 4.2% of the leaders
self-identified as Black, 4.0% of the followers and 0.9% of
the leaders self-identified as Asian, and 2.0% of the follow-
ers and 11.9% of the leaders self-identified as Other. The
average job tenure was 5.9 years for followers and 5.4 years
for leaders, and the average dyad tenure was 2.8 years.

Follower power. Leaders answered four questions, loosely

adapted from Nesler and colleagues (Nesler, Aguinis, Quig-
ley, Lee, & Tedeschi, 1999), to measure follower power.
Two items were adapted from the “Resistance and Control
Power” scale: “My subordinate can get what he/she wants
from me” and “My subordinate can get me to do things I don’t
want to do.” The other two items were adapted from Nesler
et al.’s (1999) “Global Power” scale: “My subordinate can

influence me to evaluate his/her work performance favor-
ably” and “My subordinate can influence me with regard to
the types of projects I assign him/her.” A factor analysis
using a principal component analysis extraction method
was employed. A resulting one-factor model was selected
based on retaining factors with eigenvalues greater than
one. The one-factor model explained 62.5% of the variable
variance. Cronbach’s α of .80 was obtained for the resulting
four-item measure.

Leader power. Followers answered four questions,
loosely adapted from Nesler et al. (1999), to measure leader
power. Two items were adapted from the “Resistance and
Control Power” scale: “My supervisor can get what he/she
wants from me” and “My supervisor can get me to do things
I don’t want to do.” The other two items were adapted from
Nesler et al.’s (1999) “Global Power” scale: “My supervisor
can influence me to work harder at my job” and “My super-
visor can influence the type of projects I become involved
in.” A factor analysis using a principal component analysis
extraction method was employed. A resulting one-factor
model was selected based on retaining factors with eigen-
values greater than one. The one-factor model explained
52.4% of the variable variance. Cronbach’s α of .68 was
obtained for the resulting four-item measure.

Power interaction term. The interaction term was calcu-
lated via multiplying the follower power and leader power
variables within a dyad. To address multicollinearity issues,
the power variables were centered before multiplying, and
the centered variables where used in subsequent analyses.

Follower met relationship expectations. Follower met rela-
tionship expectations was operationalized with a three-item
measure. Two items were modified from Young and Per-
rewé’s (2000) Met Expectations Scale: “So far, I have
received what I expected to receive from the relationship”
and “In retrospect, I didn’t get what I expected from the
relationship (reverse-scored).” A third item, not originally
included in Young and Perrewé’s (2000) operationalization,
was included in efforts to supplement the existing measure.
This item read: “Overall, my expectations about my rela-
tionship with my supervisor are being: (1) unmet, (2) par-
tially met, (3) met, (4) somewhat exceeded, or (5) exceeded.”

We felt it was necessary to include this item as a supple-
ment to the original two-item scale in case respondents felt
expectations were exceeded, not just met. Furthermore,
including an additional item in attitudinal measures that
reflects an overall or composite assessment of the construct
is not uncommon. A factor analysis using a principal com-
ponent analysis extraction method was employed. A result-
ing one-factor model was selected based on retaining factors
with eigenvalues greater than one. The one-factor model
explained 79.3% of the variable variance. Cronbach’s α of
.85 was obtained for the three-item measure.

Follower-assessed work relationship quality. Follower-
assessed work relationship quality was measured using the

146 Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 19(2)

popular seven-item LMX instrument (Graen & Uhl-Bien,
1995). Sample items included “Regardless of how much for-
mal authority he/she has built into his/her position, what are
the chances that your supervisor would use his/her power to
help you solve problems in your work?” and “Again, regard-
less of the amount of formal authority your supervisor has,
what are the chances that he/she would ‘bail you out,’ at his/
her expense? A factor analysis using a principal component
analysis extraction method was employed. A resulting one-
factor model was selected based on retaining factors with
eigenvalues greater than one. The one-factor model explained
63.4% of the variable variance. Cronbach’s α of .90 was
obtained for the seven-item measure.

Follower job tension. The widely used seven-item Likert-
type instrument developed by House and Rizzo (1972) was
used to measure views of follower job tension. Sample
items included “I have felt fidgety or nervous as a result of
my job,” “I work under a great deal of tension,” and “My
job tends to directly affect my health.” A factor analysis
using a principal component analysis extraction method
was employed. A resulting one-factor model was selected
based on retaining factors with eigenvalues greater than
one. The one-factor model explained 64.8% of the variable
variance. Cronbach’s α of .91 was obtained for the seven-
item measure.

Control variables. Followers were asked three questions
regarding gender, job tenure, and dyad tenure, which were
used as control variables in subsequent analyses. Gender is
related to LMX and job tension. For example, Duchon,
Green, and Taber (1986) found that gender predicted in-
group/out-group status. Also, Pretty, McCarthy, and Catano
(1992) concluded that men and women differ with regard to
predictors and processes of burnout. Controlling for gender
addresses concerns regarding it as an alternative explana-
tion. Gender was coded with Male as 1 and Female as 2.

Tenure is an important consideration because, over time,
employees may tend to self-select into and out of work rela-
tionships that are compatible or incompatible with their val-
ues (e.g., Schneider, Goldstein, & Smith, 1995). As tenure
increases, it seems plausible that employees will tend to
settle into relationships with relatively more favorable lev-
els of relationship quality, met expectations, and job ten-
sion. Hence, there may be more variation in relationship
quality, met expectations, and job tension with lower ten-
ure. Both follower job tenure and dyad tenure (i.e., tenure
with leader) were controlled and measured with five rela-
tively meaningful divisions for comparison (1 = less than 1
year; 2 = 1-3 years; 3 = 3-5 years; 4 = 5-10 years; and 5 =
more than 10 years).

Data Analysis
Model testing. The model presented in Figure 1 was tested

via path analyses using LISREL 8.71 software. Model

parameter estimates were derived from maximum likeli-
hood estimation procedures. Both leader power and fol-
lower power variables were centered to minimize
multicollinearity issues caused by their interaction term.
Hence, the hypothesized moderation effect was tested via
an interaction term. The sample size (N = 100) was rather
small, so model fit was evaluated using the standardized
root mean square residual (SRMR) and comparative fit
index (CFI) two-index strategy (Hu & Bentler, 1999).

Recommended thresholds for the SRMR and CFI two-
index strategy are about .08 and .95, respectively (Hu &
Bentler, 1999). Hence, SRMR should be less than .08 and
CFI should be greater than .95. Model fit was also evaluated
using root mean square error of approximation (RMSEA)
because this is another fit index robust to small sample sizes
(Fan, Thompson, & Wang, 1999). RMSEA values less than
.06 typically indicate good model fit (Hu & Bentler, 1999).
Finally, Tucker–Lewis index (TLI) also was used as it has
been found to be relatively independent of sample size, and
the TLI should be greater than .95 to indicate a good fit (Hu
& Bentler, 1999; Marsh, Balla, & McDonald, 1988).

Descriptive Statistics and Correlations

Descriptive statistics and intercorrelations are provided in
Table 1. Leader power correlated significantly with met
relationship expectations (r = .40, p < .01). Follower power
was not correlated with met expectations. The met relation-
ship expectations variable correlated significantly with
both work relationship quality and job tension, (r = .74, p <
.01) and (r = −.39, p .40 were retained for a prelimi-
nary analysis of item reliability, internal consistency, and factor structure (see
Table below). Ten items were eliminated from the analysis, so the final ver-


sion included 14 items. Total scores ranged from 14 to 84 (M = 41.8, SD =
12.2) with higher scores reflecting more traditional culture. Cronbach alpha
was 2 6 .

The intercorrelation matrix for 14 items was submitted to an explor-
atory factor analysis using principal axis analysis with a varimax rotation
(Boyle, Stankov, & Cattell, 1995). The Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin ratio (KMO =
.86) was high. The Bartlett test of sphericity was significant ( p .45).



In this company: r,,, Factor h 2

1. Generally, a long term vision of things is valued more.”
2. The focus on problems takes into account mainly their effects on

economic factors, with little consideration of the impact on peo-

3 . Human relations are principally based on cooperation, consen-
sus, and rou well-being (the contrary of competitiveness and
individuaf weg-being).”

4. The most important bases for promotion are personal friendships
and family ties.

5 . Creativeness and capacity for innovation are valued in employ-

6. In this com any, it is often heard “it has aly:ys been done like
that” or “tgis is the proper way of doing it.

7. The aims of systems of evaluation and control are to punish
more than to reward.

8. Conflict is treated as a normal aspect of company life, from
which valuable experience can be gained.”

9. The structure is highly centralized, i.e., the majority of matters
have to pass through very few hands.

10. The structure is flexible, i.e., it ada ts quickly and successfully to
changes that may affect its survivah

11. The rules and regulations favor unnecessary bureaucracy that
must be rigorously respected.

12. There is a constant concern to keep the technology up to date.”
13. Marketing strategies such as segmentation and market research

are used.*
14. My company is really concerned about the conservation of nature

and takes measures to this respect.”

“Reverse-scored items.


As a first approach, which needs to be confirmed with further research,
these preliminary findings indicate the scale may be further developed for
assessing traditional-culture artifacts. The common variance explained was
only 36.1% and this result is considered a limitation of the scale. Moreover,
construct validity must be examined and evidence presented for concurrent,
predictive, as well as content validity. Social desirability can also be subject-
ed to empirical inquiry. These lines of research are required for application
of items in the real world. Such effort is clearly needed because “Culture
becomes a powerful influence on members’ perceiving, thinking, and feeling;
and these predispositions, along with situational factors, will influence the
members’ behavior” (Schein, 1985, p. 320). As a consequence, conceiving
organizations in a traditional way may be too narrow because culture influ-
ences strategy, structure, and procedures of any organization with major im-


ASHKANASY, N. M., BROADFOOT, L. E., &FALKUS, S. (2000) Questionnaire measures of organiza-
tional culture. In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. P. M. Wilderon, & M. F. Peterson (Eds.), Hand-
book of organizational culture C climate. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Pp. 131-145.

B o n ~ , G. J., STANKOV, L., &CATTELL, B. (1995) Measurement and statistical models in the study
of ~ e r s o n a l i t ~ and intelligence. In D. H. Saklofske & M. Ziedner (Eds.), International
handbook of personality and intelligence. New York: Plenum. Pp. 417-446.

CATTELL, R. B. (1966) The scree test for the number of factors. Multivariate Behavioral Re-
search, 1, 245-276.

DEVELLIS, R. F. (1991) Scale development: theory and applications. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
R o u s s ~ ~ u , D. (1990) Assessing organizational culture: the case for multiple methods. In B.

Schneider (Ed.), Organizational climate and culture. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass. Pp.

SCHEIN, E. H. (1985) Organizational culture and leadership. London: Jossey Bass.
SCHEIN, E. H. (1999) The colporate culture survival guide. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Accepted September 26, 2006

Psychological Reports, 1995, 7 6 , 483-492. O Psychological Reports 1995



University of Akzbama Georgia College


University of Alabama The Southern Company

Summary.-Data on measures of organizational culture and organizational per-
formance were collected at two different points in time from a sample of 12 or-
ganizations of a firm in the electric utility industry. Pearson correlations indicated
measures of organizational culture were signiEicantly related t o objective measures of
performance. Teamwork was strongly associated with organizational performance. If
measures of organizational culture could be integrated into the reward system, manag-
ers might pay more attention to improving organizational culture and thereby improve
organizational performance.

The concept of organizational culture has been viewed as an important
paradigm for organizational analysis by providmg a dynamic and interactive
model of organizing Uelmek, Smircich, & Hirsch, 1983; Smircich, 1983). It
is important to theorists in providing another way to understand organiza-
tions. For practitioners of management, the relationship between culture and
performance postulated by organizational analysts makes organizational cul-
ture a significant consideration; however, among researchers there is some
disagreement as to whether corporate culture actually has any effect upon
organizational performance. While some have argued that it exerts a power-
ful effect upon firms’ performance (Barney, 1986; Deal & Kennedy, 1982;
Denison, 1984; Goll & Sambharya, 1990; Peters & Waterman, 1982;
Wiener, 1988), others argue that there is either no such lmk or that the rela-
tionship has no measurable effect (Arogyaswamy & Byles, 1987; P. D. Rey-
nolds, 1986; Saffold, 1988). The purpose of this paper was to investigate em-
pirically the relationship between organizational culture and organizational

Defining Culture
Organizational culture is not a particularly easy concept to address. Part

of the difficulty lies in its definition for the concept is borrowed from the
anthropological literature and the researchers who have applied it to organi-
zations and a business context have defined culture differently and disagree

‘Address correspondence to Christo her M. Lowery, Department of Management, Georgia
College, Campus Box 01 1, ~ i l l e d ~ e v i f e , G A 3 1061.

484 M. M. PETTY, ET AL.

somewhat as to the precise nature of the construct. Ln their introduction to
the Administrative Science Quarterly special issue on culture, Jehnek, et al.
(1983) observed that the concept of culture is not well-developed and that it
may be desirable to have a range of approaches rather than one fixed defini-
tion. A survey of the literature indicates that there are several definitions for
culture but these varied definitions of culture principally represent two
broad categories, those which describe culture in an overt fashion and those
which treat it as an underlying force. Although these appear to be the two
primary approaches, some researchers have fashioned definitions by combin-
ing these two views (Bowles, 1987; Uttal, 1983).

The first group views culture as how an organization sets strategy,
develops goals, measures progress, and defines products and markets. Cul-
ture is considered as a mechanism for governing rational behavior, a system
of broad rules for appropriate action under specified contingencies (Carnerer
& Vepsalainen, 1988). Those who hold this view tend to write for and from
a practitioner’s perspective and consequently often seem to regard culture as
at least partially malleable and thus amenable to managerial intervention.

The second group focuses on underlying systems of unconscious – .
assumptions and beliefs which are shared by members of an organization
(Schein, 1989) and expressed via symbols, ceremonies, and myths (Ouchi,
1981). Most researchers who lean towards this view agree that an organiza-
tion’s value system is a key element to the definition of culture (Arogyas-
wamy & Byles, 1987; Deal & Kennedy, 1982; Peters & Waterman, 1982;
Wiener, 1988). Adherents often view culture as static, as resistant to change.
Yet even here we find that authors who write for practicing managers ap-
pear to view culture as more dynamic than their anthropological and c h i c a l
peers. In this paper we seek to resolve some of the conflict between the two
views by proposing that the two views of culture are not in confict but are
rather complementary. The second is more static because it takes a long-
term view of culture while the first is more short term. We view culture as
essentially a long-term m hen omen on (the second view) and yet as one which,
to be useful from an organizational development perspective, can be affected
and observed within a shorter time. In this way, the two definitions are not
mutually exclusive but are complementary.

Measuring Culture
In addition to the M i c u l t y in defining culture, problems also arise

when researchers attempt to measure organizational culture. Even though
considerable attention has been directed toward culture as an important fea-
ture of organizations, few attempts have been made to develop systematic
measures of culture (P. D. Reynolds, 1986). This lack of effective measure-
ment appears to be related to the nature of the definitions of culture, most
of which permit only qualitative research. As a result, the methods of mea-


surement tend to be qualitative, descriptive, and categorical rather than
quantitative. If culture is defined as underlying values which can only be
expressed-and so assessed-via symbols, myths, and ceremonies, then the
measurement must be qualitative. Usually those who favor quahtative over
quantitative research contend that cultural processes reflect a social con-
struction of reahty unique to the organization and so are impossible to assess
with standardized measures (Cooke & Rousseau, 1988).

These quahtative methods tend to be either descriptive or categorical.
The descriptive methods characterize organizational culture and its effects
observationally; they idenufy whether explanatory traits are evident within
organizations. In this vein, Shemood (1988) identified five characteristics of
a “high-commitment” work culture, Barney (1986) described organizational
culture by evaluating whether a strong set of core managerial values exist,
and Camerer and Vepsalainen (1988) distinguished four dunensions of cul-
ture. In each case the method employed was description by a primary ob-

The categorical methods are also based on observation with the bound-
ary lines more clearly drawn. Deal and Kennedy (1982) were the first to
categorize culture as “strong” versus “weak,” a view which was further
developed by Clark (1987). Saffold (1988) proposed an alternative categori-
zation based on measures of cultural dispersion and potency. Wiener (1988)
classified companies based on a four-cell matrix which dlvided organizations
by the strength of the value system.

As for empirical research, several attempts have been made to assess
organizational culture quantitatively. Denison (1984) constructed a question-
naire to measure managerial style as employees’ participation. P. D. Rey-
nolds (1986) developed an instrument to capture aspects of organizational
culture and the perceived work context of the individual, while Cooke and
Rousseau (1988) proposed the Organizational Culture Inventory as a means
of assessing culture in terms of behavioral norms and expectations. Lastly,
Goll and Sambharya (1990) measured culture in terms of top management
ideology. All of these attempts arise from concepts other than ethnography.

Much of the practitioner-oriented literature seemingly combines these
two conceptual and methodological approaches. In proposing schemas of
effective corporate cultures, the authors retell myths and stories which indi-
cate the nature of the cultures of effective organizations. The focus of this
literature is often on cultural change. In their recommendations for changing
cultures, advising companies to change their corporate stories and myths is
avoided; instead, top management is encouraged to become aware of the
current culture and then change that culture by developing explicit state-
ments of value, by building consensus, by the reinforcement of these values
via managerial behavior and reward systems, and by the socialization of the
members of the organization (MacMdan, 1983; Schein, 1989).

486 M. M. PETTY, ET AL

Thus, the use of culture as a concept in organizational change and
development does not put the two perspectives regardmg culture into con-
a c t with one another. Authors apparently unconsciously recognize the comple-
mentary relationship of the perspectives. Since myths, stories, and rituals
take time to develop and become representative of a particular culture, the
culture of an organization may change before these manifestations become
apparent. In fact, if cultural change is to occur, it must occur first and then
be represented by the manifestations subsequent to that change. As a result,
it can be argued that the two perspectives on the measurement of culture
are at least partially complementary. Quahtative measures which focus on
the elements of culture manifested in myth, story, and ritual can be seen as
long-term measures. Quantitative measures, on the other hand, may allow
researchers to assess whether attempts at changing culture are currently
effective. These short-run measures may give those who are implementing
the change some level of intermediate feedback on their progress.

Culture-Performance Relationship
While, as recounted above, some attempts have been made to measure

organizational culture, this line of inquiry has also led to an investigation of
the relationship of organizational culture to other organizational-level vari-
ables. Organizational effecriveness, arguably the most important variable at
this level, has been examined.

Qualitative analysis led Barney (1986) to state that a firm which has a
valuable, rare, and imperfectly imitable culture enjoys a sustained competi-
tive advantage. Camerer and Vepsalainen (1988) predcted that firms would
be effective if their cultures solved the management problem of governing
economic activity efficiently. Within Wiener’s (1988) “shared values” frame-
work, the functional-traditional cultural style was considered the most likely
to contribute to the development of “proper” values and, consequently, to
organizational effectiveness.

Denison (1984), using concrete performance indicators and a quantita-
tive measurement methodology, reported that companies with a participative
culture reaped a return on investment which averaged nearly twice that of
firms with less efficient cultures. Denison’s conclusion was that cultural and
behavioral aspects of organizations were intimately linked to both short-term
performance and long-term survival.

However, the existence of a positive link between culture and perform-
ance has not gained unanimous acceptance. Accordmg to Saffold (1988), the
link between culture and performance is not a straightforward one. P. D.
Reynolds (1986) concluded that there was little evidence of an association
between organizational performance and one particular element of organiza-
tional culture, perceived work context. Also, Arogyaswamy and Byles (1987)
concluded that organizational culture was not crucial to performance but
was just one of many explanatory variables.


The purpose of the present study was to explore quantitatively the rela-
tionship between organizational performance and culture. We hypothesized
that measures of culture would be significantly and positively correlated with
objectively measured organizational performance.

According to Albert (1987), the starting point in guiding employees’ be-

havior and performance is a formal statement of management philosophy
and key values, supported by actual managerial practice. It is not enough
merely to identdy an organization’s uniqueness; one must also communicate
this effectively to employees (~lemens,. 1986). In an effort to develop an
“effective” culture, the chief executive officer of the focal company in this
study developed a statement of desirable values for the organization. This
statement was termed a “Vision Statement” and was communicated to the
employees via presentations and on-site publicity. It contained key words,
e.g., integrity, trust, candor, quality, value, innovation, teamwork, dgnity,
and service, and was framed to emphasize the values that the organization
should uphold, values to which its members were to be committed.

A survey instrument was developed to measure the values held by
workers within the firm and to assess whether the values enumerated in the
Vision Statement were being accepted by the employees. The measures of
culture were developed through a process involving the employees of the
company. Groups of employees discussed the Vision Statement and were
asked to indcate what behaviors they believed should be occurring in a
work environment which was reflective of the Vision Statement.

Based on these discussions a 55-item survey was developed and re-
viewed by company executives. The survey2 was administered to 3977
employees across the entire company. A factor analysis of these items using
the principal components method (SAS, 1985) idenufied four scales which
measured corporate culture; these were Teamwork, Trust and Credibhty,
Performance and Common Goals, and Organizational Functioning. Esti-
mates of internal consistency rehability were .94 for Teamwork, .92 for Trust
and C r e d i b ~ l i t ~ , .88 for Performance and Common Goals, and .70 for Orga-
nizational Functioning. Definitions of these scales are provided in Table 1.
The survey was then administered to 832 employees in 12 organizations of
the focal company, a firm in the electric u t h y industry with approximately
11,000 employees and operations in several states. The 12 organizations were
service organizations within the firm. One year later, the same survey was
administered to 884 employees in these 12 service organizations (these ad-
ministrations were designated “Time I ” and “Time 2”).

‘This material is on fde in Document NAPS-05186 Remit $11.35 for photocopy or $4.00 for
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488 M. M. PETTY, ET AL


Teamwork: Items 1oadmg on this dimension indicate the extent to which people in a
work group see cooperative behaviors occurring. Such behaviors include sharing in-
formation, helping others wich their work, seeking ways to help the work group meet
its goals, involving those affected by a course of action, sharing resources, making
sacrifices for the good of the group, and being rewarded for working as a team.

Trust and Credibhty: This dimension involves the degree to which employees observe
managers behaving in ways that encourage employees to believe what managers tell
them, and the extent to which employees trust managers to meet their commitments.
Such behaviors include having open, two-way communications with supervisors, feel-
ing listened to, being treated fairly by managers relative to evaluations, promotions,
and raises, being able to take initiative and t o make errors without excessive fear of
reprisal, and being encouraged to express opinions freely without apprehension.

Performance and Common Goals: This dimension reflects the extent to which employ-
ees observe people in their work group behaving in ways consistent with a desire to
improve productivity, reduce costs, and become more eficient and effective. Such be-
haviors include seeing people finding ways to use materials previously discarded,
clearly defining goals for their work group that are realistic and challenging, and hav-
ing a sense of commonahty of goals.

Organizational Functioning: This dimension represents a collection of observed behav-
iors that are indicative of frustrations o r sources of interference with getting the work
done. These observations include having incompatible goals, having to wait on others
to complete their work, not having the parts/supplies when they are needed, finding
the work of multiple groups are not well coordinated, or having to work with defec-
rive or inappropriate equipment.

Responses to each item on a scale were scored using six points an-
chored by 6 , “strongly agree,” and 1, “strongly dsagree,” for positively
worded items and by 1, “strongly agree,” and 6 , “strongly disagree,” for
negatively worded items. The four organizational culture scales were scored
fo; each individual employee who completed the survey instrument. The
scale scores were computed as the mean response of the item scores for each
scale. Theoretically, the scale scores could range from a low of 1.0 to a high
of 6.0.

Organizational performance data were collected for two fiscal years
(Time 1 and Time 2) for all 12 service organizations. The organizational per-
formance measure, developed previously by the focal company for evaluating
the performance of its service organizations, was a summary of five objective
measures of organizational performance (Operations, Customer Accounting,
Support Services, Marketing, and Employee Safety and Health). Quantitative
measures of these components were converted to a 0-to-lO scale, multiplied
by a relative weight, and then summed to form the score for each category.
The maximum score for each category was 1000. The scores for all five cate-
gories were then summed to obtain over-all scores for each organization. In


the view of the focal organization, the use of the summary measure rather
than the individual components was the appropriate method for measuring

Note that a particular strength of this study lies in the fact that all
measures were developed internally within the company. In particular, the
measure of performance was an objective indcator of organizational effec-
tiveness which was used by the company in evaluation, not simply one
which the researchers thought appropriate. In the same vein, the measures
of culture were also what the company deemed important. The culture mea-
sures were organizationally specific, reflecting the view that each organiza-
tion is in the best position to decide what is relevant in terms of culture
(Barney, 1986).

Analysis involved correlational techniques. The data consisted of both
performance measures and culture measures for 12 organizations at two
points in time. Three different sets of correlations were computed: the static
correlations for the 12 organizations at Times 1 and 2, and the lagged corre-
lations between culture at Time 1 and performance at Time 2.

The means and standard deviations of the variables are contained in Ta-

ble 2. In Table 3 are the Pearson correlations among the variables for the 12
organizations at Time 1 and Time 2, and the correlations between culture at
Time 1 and performance at Time 2. As can be seen, summary performance
was significantly, positively correlated with three of the four measures of cul-
ture (Teamwork, Trust and Cre&bihty, and Performance and Common

Performance was not significantly associated with Organizational


Variable M SD

Time 1 Teamwork 4.32 0.15
Trust and Credibility 3 .a4 0.18
Organizational Functioning 3.70 0.13
PerformancdCommon Goals 4.58 0.11
Objective Performance 3889.58 311.80

Time 2 Teamwork 4.40 0.17
T r u s t and Credibility 3.92 0.20
Org~lnlzational Functioning 3.81 0.18
Pe~formancdCommon Goals 4.62 0.12
Objective Performance 4040.83 330.70

Of the values for the 12 organizations at Time 2 contained in Table 3 ,
only one was statistically significant. Summary performance was positively as-
sociated only with Teamwork.

490 M. M. PETTY, ET AL.



Variable 1 2 3 4 5

Time 1
1. Teamwork
2. Trust and Credibility .80$
3. Organizational Functioning .17 .3 6
4. Performance/Common Goals .61t .61t -.I7
5. Objective Performance .77$ .62t .33 .44*

Time 2
1. Teamwork
2. Trust and Credib~Lit~ .84$
3. Organizational Functioning .56t 3 2 %
4. Performance/Cornmon Goals .74$ .88$ .65t
5. Objective Performance .49* .28 .20 .18

Culture at Time 1 and Performance a t Time 2
1. Teamwork
2. Trust and Credibility 3 0 %
3. Organizational Functioning .17 .36
4. Performance/Common Goals .61t .61t -.I7
5. Objective Performance . 6 l t .37 .3 1 .32

*p<.10. t p < . 0 5 . $p<.01.

Finally, the lagged correlations between culture at Time 1 and perfor-
mance at Time 2 mdcate that teamwork was the only variable significantly
associated with organizational performance and the correlation was positive.

The results indicate that organizational performance is linked to organi-

zational culture. The strongest indication of the h k was evident in the cor-
relation between teamwork and performance. While significant, positive cor-
relations of three of the four culture measures with performance were noted
at Time 1, only Teamwork was significantly associated with performance at
Time 2. Also, of the culture measures from Time 1, teamwork alone was sig-
nificantly related to performance at Time 2.

From these correlations it appears the major aspect of culture in some
way related to performance is teamwork, for strong evidence was provided
in all three analyses. Apparently, in this context, an organizational culture
that emphasizes teamwork is more conducive to organizational effectiveness
than one that does not foster cooperative behaviors. Such behaviors as help-
ing others, sharing of information and resources, and worlung as a team
seem to enhance performance in the aggregate for this organization. This, of
course, may not be true for all organizations. As has been noted, the mea-
sures of culture were organizationally specific and developed by the organi-
zation as expressions of relevant cultural characteristics members hoped


would be effective in increasing organizational performance. Other organiza-
tions may incorporate other cultural characteristics relevant to their particu-
lar conditions and constraints.

While the relationship between culture and performance has certainly
not been established beyond a shadow of a doubt, there is indication of a
link. The longitudinal nature of our data allowed examination of the pattern
of relationships over time. The stability of the correlations between team-
work and organizational performance over one year provides evidence of the
link between organizational culture and organizational effectiveness.

This work yields evidence that organizational performance may be influ-
enced by its culture, so it may be appropriate for managers in the orga-
nization to foster a culture that will facilitate effective organizational perform-
ance. While the current analysis indicated that a culture which encourages
teamwork and cooperation may be beneficial in an electric uthty, one irn-
portant implication may be that short-term measures of cultural change may
facihtate the identification of particular elements of culture which most sig-
nificantly influence performance. As a consequence, managers can concen-
trate efforts to achieve changes which maximize performance. However, the
influence of some cultural factors may require longer than one year so man-
agers must be careful to avoid abandoning too quickly values which may
provide future benefit.

The management of culture is seen by some as difficult (P. C. Reynolds,
1986; Schein, 1989; Uttal, 1983) and yet by others as a necessary element of
corporate strategy (Culp, 1988; Denison, 1984; Plant & Ryan, 1988). Part of
the difficulty may lie in the nature of the measures employed to assess cul-
ture. Qualitative measures are necessarily focused on long-term manifesta-
tions of changes in employees' values. Consequently, if culture is defined
solely in qualitative terms, evidence of change could be hfficult to observe.
With quantitative measures the focus becomes short-term and changes
which are more easily in evidence may be more clearly linked to organiza-
tionally relevant outcomes.


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Accepted Janrrary 30, 139s.

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