Using transformational leadership to change organizational culture in a government agency
v Table of Contents
Acknowledgments iv List of Tables viii List of Figures x CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1 Background of the Study 2 Problem Statement 7 Purpose of the Study 7 Rationale 8 Research Questions 9 Significance of the Study 9 Definition of Terms 10 Assumptions and Limitations 12 Conceptual Framework 13 Organization of Remainder of Study 14 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 15 Government Organizations 15 Leadership Theory 17 Traditional Leadership Theories 18 New Era Leadership Theories 23 Culture 35 T he Leadership/Culture Relationship 42
vi Conclusion 44 CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 45 Research Design 45 Sample 47 Setting 49 Instrumentation 49 Data Collection 51 Validity and Reliability 53 Data Analysis 56 Confidentiality 57 Ethical Considerations 58 CHAPTER 4: DATA ANALYSIS/RESULTS 59 Data Collection and Analysis 59 Participants and Demographic Information 64 Research Questions and Hypotheses 66 Summary 89 CHAPTER 5: DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS 91 Discussion 95 Implications to Municipal Organizations 97 Limitations of the Research 98 Recommendations for Future Research 99 Conclusion 101 REFERENCES 103
vii APPENDIX A. SAMPLE MLQ QUESTIONS 110 APPENDIX B. ADDITIONAL MANOVA ANALYSIS 111
viii List of Tables Table 1: Reliability Data for Organizational Culture Survey 54 Table 2: Data Collection Statistics 61 Table 3: Demographic Information 65 Table 4: Transformational Leadership and Employee Involvement Regression Analysis 68 Table 5: Subcategories of Involvement Measures 69 Table 6: Female and Male Comparison for Involvement 70 Table 7: Union and Non-Union Comparison for Involvement 71 Table 8: Transformational Leadership and Consistency of Effort Regression Analysis 73 Table 9: Subcategories of Consistency of Effort Measures 74 Table 10: Female and Male Comparison for Consistency of Effort 75 Table 11: Union and Non-Union Comparison for Consistency of Effort 76 Table 12: Transformational Leadership and Adaptability Regression Analysis 78 Table 13: Subcategories of Adaptability Measures 79 Table 14: Female and Male Comparison for Adaptability 80 Table 15: Union and Non-Union Comparison for Adaptability 81 Table 16: Transformational Leadership and Focus on Mission Regression Analysis 83 Table 17: Subcategories of Focus on Mission Measures 84 Table 18: Female and Male Comparison for Focus on Mission 85 Table 19: Union and Non-Union Comparison for Focus on Mission 86
ix Table 20: Transformational and Transactional Leadership Styles on Leadership Outcome 87 Table B1: Subcategories of Involvement Measures 112 Table B2: Subcategories of Involvement (Empowerment) Measures 113 Table B3: Subcategories of Involvement (Team Orientation) Measures 114 Table B4: Subcategories of Involvement (Capability Development) Measures 115 Table B5: Subcategories of Consistency of Effort) Measures 116 Table B6: Subcategories of Consistency of Effort (Core Valuation) Measures 117 Table B7: Subcategories of Consistency of Effort (Agreement) Measures 118 Table B8: Subcategories of Consistency of Effort (Coordination and Integration) Measures 119 Table B9: Subcategories of Adaptability Measures 120 Table B10: Subcategories of Adaptability (Create Change) Measures 121 Table B11: Subcategories of Adaptability (Customer Focus) Measures 122 Table B12: Subcategories of Adaptability (Organization Learning) Measures 123 Table B13: Subcategories of Focus on Mission Measures 124 Table B14: Subcategories of Focus on Mission (Strategic Direction) Measures 125 Table B15: Subcategories of Focus on Mission (Goals and Objectives) Measures 126 Table B16: Subcategories of Focus on Mission (Vision) Measures 127
x List of Figures Figure 1: Leadership Driven Culture 13 Figure 2: Environment Driven Behavior 14
1 CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Municipal organizations employ upwards of 22 million people in the U.S. workforce (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009), and exist in an environment of diminishing budgets and growing problems. Leaders want to maximize productivity, revenue, services, and performance, whereas employees want to be treated fairly, to receive an honest days’ pay, and to be respected as an integral part of the organization. Unions are common in this environment where municipal leaders and employee goals sometimes seem incompatible. Does the lack of a profit motive, low wages attacking less motivated employees, and the existence of strong unions mean that municipal workers will necessarily be inefficient, ineffective, and poorly motivated? Is the culture driven by the municipal environment or by ineffective leadership? Can this environment be overcome and an effective culture be achieved with improved leadership? In for-profit organizations, leadership is expected to maximize employee productivity. Various leadership approaches to improving organizational culture have led to a large body of knowledge to make this happen. This suggests the question of whether for-profit organization leadership approaches are applicable to governmental agencies, therefore negating the assumption of the inevitability of municipal employee behavior. If they are, a large body of literature should have relevancy to municipal governance. Organizations often encounter challenges and issues pertaining to the relationship between leadership styles and organizational culture. Whether the organization falls within the private, non-profit, or government sectors, similar concerns can many times afflict its operational success, despite its organizational type. Leadership can potentially achieve both organization and employee goals.
2 Background of the Study This quantitative research study replicates the Kest (2007) study that suggested further research into the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational culture in the government sector. Kest conducted a study that focused on using transformational leadership concepts and applying the concepts in a local government setting as it relates to the outcomes of employee satisfaction, effectiveness, and extra effort. Kest also acknowledged the lack of research in applying the leadership concepts in a local government organization. The Kest (2007) study used a correlational analysis to determine a relationship between the independent variable of leadership and the dependent variables of organizational culture. The study utilized Bass and Avolio’s (2004) Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire and Kolb, Osland, and Rubin’s (1995) Organizational Culture Questionnaire to collect data from a county government office of elected commissioners. Previous research has shown a direct correlation between transformational leadership and organizational culture (Block, 2003; Kest, 2007; Taormina, 2008). Kest’s study suggested that “organizational culture is an important component in a local government office and needs to be researched in greater detail” (Kest, 2007, p. 89). The study concluded that a transformational leadership style leads to higher outcomes in effectiveness, satisfaction, and extra effort. The data did not provide conclusive results regarding the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational culture in a government setting. Government organizations often perpetuate a style of leadership that is not necessarily conducive to achieving an organizational culture that promotes employee growth and development. Davis (1996) examined Simon’s (1946) administrative rational model and its applicability to government organizations. Davis noted that the organization is an “artificially
3 contrived system of rules and regulations” (p. 50). The organizational culture in many government agencies is depicted by behavior that is consistent with following the rules, doing only the minimum required, and maintaining the status quo. “A person’s labor is nothing more than a means to material culture” (Davis, 1996, p. 51). As a result, leadership sometimes overlooks the opportunity to help positively shape the attitudes and behavior of the workforce, in turn creating a more stagnant environment. “They operate on the premise that the people stuff is a messy, hard-to-define, unfortunate aspect of government life” (Leheney, 2008, p. 15). Denison (1984), one of the first to empirically test organizational culture, suggested that culture is reflected in employee involvement, consistency, adaptability, and acceptance of mission. He developed the Organizational Cultured Survey Instrument to measure those four culture traits that are found within an organization. Deem (as cited in Kotter & Heskett, 1992, p. 38) posited “Leadership at the top of the organization is widely recognized as the primary key to effectuating successful cultural change efforts”. Many people are willing to accept change as long as nothing changes; oftentimes changing back to a behavior that is more comfortable for them. The personal struggles with change that many people have can impede their ability to acquiesce to the unfamiliar (Rago, 1996). It is leadership that bears the brunt of the responsibility to induce the needed cultural change in employees’ attitude and behavior within the organization. When analyzing municipal organizations, a significant amount of attention has been placed on the organization’s culture, the need for the “efficiency of government to run more like private entities and the need for fundamental change within these organizations” (Schraeder, Tears, & Jordan, 2005, p. 493). Sometimes it is necessary to change the leadership style in order to get the desired change in the organization’s culture. “Leadership is at the heart of any change process” (Block, 2003, p. 331). The connection between leadership style and organizational
4 culture is an interesting and important subject that is addressed when trying to bring about essential change in any organization, and therefore in this research specifically for a government organization. Public administration evolved from three conceptual schools: Taylor’s (1911) scientific management; Gulick and Urwick’s (1937) administrative management; and Weber’s (1947) bureaucracy. Thompson (2006) described the school of scientific management as seeking to maximize efficiency by “planning procedures according to a technical logic, setting standards, and exercising controls to ensure conformity with standards” (p. 5); administrative management as seeking to maximize efficiency by “specializing tasks and grouping them into departments, fixing responsibility according to such principles as span of control or delegation, and controlling action to plans” (p. 5); and bureaucracy as “focusing on staffing and structure and maximizing efficiency by defining offices according to jurisdiction and place in a hierarchy, appointing experts to offices and establishing rules for categories of activity” (p. 5). The results of numerous research studies (Avolio, Bass, & Jung, 1999; Block, 2003; Emery & Barker, 2007; Kest, 2007) have supported the concept that transformational leadership has a positive correlation with organizational culture as it relates to employee attitudes and behavior. Transactional leadership is the most commonly used leadership style within government organizations (Gentry, 2005). A transactional leader is more inclined to have an unspoken interaction with employees that strongly delineates who is in charge, and the roles are clearly identified so that no misunderstanding takes place between the two entities. Chen (2004) described a transactional culture to be one where “all jobs are explicitly spelled out along with conditions of employment, disciplinary codes and benefit structures” (p. 433).
5 The premise developed herein is that changing the leadership style to reflect a more transformational approach could create an organizational environment that benefits the leader, the employees, and the citizens. Transformational leaders tend to promote an organizational culture of empowerment with a participative management style of leadership. Creating vision, motivating employees, openly communicating, and making positive contributions to the organization are some of the activities that are directly related to transformational leaders. Chen (2004) defined a transformational leadership environment as one of family, purpose and mutual respect. Burns (1978) conceptualized the basis for transforming leadership by characterizing a leader’s behavior on a continuum between transactional and transformational styles. He suggested transactional leadership to be an exchange of one thing for another in the political arena. According to Burns (1978), the leader is focused on getting the job done via rewards or other correcting measures. He cited the transformational leader as one who “emphasizes followers’ needs, values, and morals” (McCann, 2008, p.22). The transformational leader has vision and motivating influence with followers that extends beyond just getting the job done. Bass (1985) expanded the theories to include seven leadership behaviors: Attributed Charisma/Inspirational Motivation [“often not empirically distinguishable” (Avolio et al., 1999, p. 72)], Idealized Influence, Intellectual Stimulation and Individualized Consideration, Contingent Reward, Management by Exception – Active, and Management by Exception – Passive. Bass’s (1985) multifactor leadership model has been examined and tested using a confirmatory factor analysis of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) survey because of the extensive body of research that is available on the leadership model. The analysis provides a more stringent test of the instrument, as well as helps to determine the instrument’s validity
6 (Avolio et al., 1999). This study also used the MLQ 5x survey form to determine the correlation between transformational leadership and organizational culture as it relates to employee attitudes toward leadership and employee behavior. The theory of organizational culture has endured great difficulty in being defined primarily because of its abstract nature (Taormina, 2008). Pettigrew’s (1979) seminal study on culture was based on the premise of language, beliefs, and rituals. Schein (1985) submitted a frequently used definition of organizational culture as the “basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of an organization” (p. 6). For this study, organizational culture is illustrated through the shared attitudes and behavior of government employees. The attitudes toward leadership are reflected through the employees’ behavior and willingness to go over and beyond what is minimally required. Transactional leaders put a greater emphasis on assignments and standards (Emery & Barker, 2007), therefore creating an exchange process that does not necessarily foster a relationship between leadership and the employees. As a result, an organizational culture of doing only what’s required tends to become the standard in bureaucratic environments. Taormina (2008) noted that “leaders have considerable freedom to decide how their organization will run, and can thus be expected to play a major role in influencing the culture of an organization” (p. 86). A government’s organizational structure primarily dictates a ‘follow the chain of command’ atmosphere which many times reduce the opportunity for employees to flourish. The results of improved employee morale, extra effort and willingness to change have been examined in transactional and transformational leadership scenarios, although the positive outcomes are most often associated with the transformational leadership style. “Transactional leadership does n ot require relationships between the leader and followers” (Kest, 2007, p. 3), therefore, the
7 aforementioned outcomes in the selected government agency were not expected to have any positive correlation. When examining the leadership style of a government organization from a practical perspective, the transactional style seems to suppress the growth of employees, thereby creating a negative impact on the employees’ behavior. Employees are perceived to have a negative attitude toward the organization, in turn possessing low employee morale; employees appear to do the minimum without any additional effort to get the job done; and the employees’ willingness to change is low because of the lack of positive relationships that are so often present. This then leads to the following research problem. Problem Statement
This study investigated whether leadership style in a unionized municipal agency affects cultural outcomes of involvement, consistency, adaptability and focus on mission. It also explored whether previous research findings in nongovernmental agencies were similarly found and thereby relevant in a unionized municipal environment. The sample was drawn from the Water and Sewage Department of the City of Detroit (DWSD). Purpose of the Study The purpose of this study is to determine if alternative leadership styles of transactional versus transformational differently impact the cultural outcomes of involvement, consistency, adaptability, and focus on mission within a government agency. A dominant leadership style of transactional can lead to the stunting of growth of employees. Just following the rules and doing just enough to keep the job are not effective ways to get employees to go over and beyond what is required. By examining the relationship between transformational leadership and organizational culture within a government organization, the opportunity for organizational
8 change and development can take place. Changing the leadership style to enhance the organizational culture could ultimately lead to a more productive, positive, and profitable organization (Carr, 2004). Rationale
Leadership has been described as a mutual influence relationship (McLaurin & Al Amri, 2008), and organizational culture has been defined as a shared perception of daily practices (Anwar & Jabnoun, 2006). Combining those definitions yields the concept that leadership can influence daily practices found within an organization. Understanding the relationship between leadership style and organizational culture can offer substantial insight into creating more effective governmental organizations. This research employed an independent variable of leadership style measured using the Bass and Avolio’s Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) and dependent variables using Denison’s Organizational Culture Survey (OCS). The sample was drawn from the Water and Sewage Department of the City of Detroit (DWSD), an organization divided into six operating groups with approximately 2,300 mostly unionized employees. Although DWSD is a City of Detroit department, it is a total enterprise agency that stands alone from other City departments. None of the department’s revenue supports the City’s general fund. DWSD has a separate Board of Commission that it is accountable to which is different from other City departments. DWSD primarily interconnects with the City as a whole in the event of a reduction in workforce. This occurs when employees with like titles throughout the organization can be laid off and can then “bump” another employee with less seniority from the position.
9 Research Questions To analyze this research problem, the following research questions were applied: RQ1: Is there a relationship between transformational leadership and employee involvement? RQ2: Is there a relationship between transformational leadership and consistency of effort? RQ3: Is there a relationship between transformational leadership and employee adaptability? RQ4: Is there a relationship between transformational leadership and employee focus on mission? Significance of the Study The significance of this study is to add to the body of knowledge concerning effectively leading employees in the government sector. The potential contribution of this study to the body of knowledge is the impact of a specific leadership style on the organizational culture of government agencies. Kest (2007) and Block (2003) recommended further examination of the leadership/organizational culture construct. Although transformational leadership and organizational culture have been researched individually in government organizations, there has been little to no research on their relationship to government when examined together. This study afforded the potential to determine if the municipal sector is significantly different than the other industry categories, despite its reputation of having a specific type of organizational culture. Knowledge concerning a change in employee behavior in the workplace and employee attitudes toward the organization can potentially lead to increased productivity and ultimately increased public satisfaction; and in some situations, even revenue. Although government
10 organizations are not in business to make profits, revenue from fees and services is necessary in some departments to maintain financial stability. As the economy undergoes a substantial readjustment, diminishing budgets, increasing unemployment, and other economic despair may be the veracity of government organizations for the next few years. With that reality, it will become necessary to create more effective ways to govern with fewer resources while charging for services. Changing the leadership style could be the basic step to promoting a more positive and effective workplace. The significance of this study to DWSD is the opportunity to obtain transformational change within the department. As an enterprise agency within the City of Detroit, DWSD has to be self-sufficient and financially responsible in order to sustain as an independent department. Therefore, the department must consider various business and leadership principles in order to remain a viable, profitable City agency. Although the agency can be considered public yet private, the organizational culture still remains consistent with most bureaucratic organizations. Restructuring and reengineering the department to become more efficient and effective in delivering services to the metropolitan region of Detroit will become paramount for its survival as an enterprise agency. Ultimately, the results of this study could be beneficial to other City of Detroit departments as well. Definition of Terms The following terms are used within this study: B ureaucratic Organizational Structure allows the leader to control employees through legitimate power and standardizing work processes (Green, 2007).
11 Empowerment is described as the act of giving followers the autonomy to manage their work with perceived meaningfulness, thereby facilitating satisfaction with performance and the leader (Bartram & Casimir, 2007). Government Organizations have been described as being “important administrative systems” that are managed by the boundaries of “mission, resources, capacity, responsibility, and accountability” (Kettl, 2006, p. 10). Hierarchical Organizational Structure has a structure that is designed with “each manager reporting to one and only one manager at the next higher level” (Harris & Raviv, 2002, p. 852). Leadership has been defined as the “management of human behavior” and it “deals with getting people to do what needs to be done” (Guarriello, 1996, p. 18). Mechanistic Organizational Structure “emphasizes rules, procedure, and dominance by a hierarchy of authority” (Papasolomon, 2006, p. 198). Organizational Change is defined as the organization’s implementation of a new idea or behavior (Liu & Chen, 2008). Organizational Culture is defined as a “composite of the values, beliefs and norms expressed in an organization’s actual practices and behaviors” (Atkins & Turner, 2006, p. 31). Organizational Development is a field based on research and established best practices that encourage the use of action research where the research base and best practices are not clear on what to do (Russell, 2008). Tall Organizational Structure depicts a centralized decision making process with a concentration on “vertical, superior/subordinate interactions typifying a command and control setting” (Meisel & Fearon, 1999, p. 181).
12 Transactional Leadership is “based on authority. Transactional leaders emphasize work standards, procedures, training, and task-oriented goals” (Bromley & Kirschner-Bromley, 2007, p. 55). Transformational Leaders “serve as mentors, coaches and role models, and there is much talk at all levels within the organization about purposes, vision and meeting challenges” (Shrivers- Blackwell, 2004, p. 44). Assumptions and Limitations Several assumptions that are inherent in this study include: 1. A significant assumption is that unionized employee responses will not be biased by the rules of conduct or collective bargaining agreements. 2. An important assumption is that employees at all levels of personnel will be able to objectively evaluate leadership because of past employee-manager interactions and union-related issues. 3. It is assumed that the differences among leadership styles within the various groups of the Water Department are sufficiently strong to reflect the leadership style and overcome the overall culture of the Detroit municipal government or other groups. 4. It is assumed that the union workers will be more apprehensive to participate, but will also be more open to the idea of changing the environment than non-union workers. Several limitations that are inherent in this study include: 1. The results of the study are limited to municipal organizations that have unionized employees. 2. The results are limited because of the economic and political problems within the Detroit municipal government.
13 3. The fear of retaliation by management may have affected the quality of responses received from the surveys. 4. One important limitation is the unsuccessful union negotiations that are currently taking place between union and City leadership which can lead to undue dissatisfaction with leadership within the department. 5. Less than 20% of the participants completed the surveys with the majority of the employees being union vs. supervisors. Conceptual Framework The Conceptual Framework of this research is particularly based on the leadership studies of Bass and Avolio (1993), the cultural studies of Denison (1984), and the leadership/cultural insight offered by Block (2003) and Kest (2007). Leadership studies in for-profit organizations have found that transformational leadership results in more effective employees. Bass and Avolio (1995) have developed ways to measure transformational leadership through the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire, Denison (1984) has developed means to measure the e ffects of organizational culture through the Organizational Culture Survey Instrument, and Kest (2007) has addressed municipal government issues. The model on which this research is based is that the intervening variables between leadership style and employee outcomes is organizational culture as manifested in employee involvement, consistency, adaptability, and focus on mission. This is shown in Figure 1.1.
Figure 1. Leadership Driven Culture Transformative Leadership Style Organization Culture Employee Behavior
14 This can be contrasted with an environmentally driven model of Figure 2.
Figure 2. Environment Driven Behavior
As noted previously, the transformative model has found research support in the for-profit sector. This research is intended to see if it holds in the municipal sector. Organization of the Remainder of the Study The remainder of this dissertation is organized as follows. Chapter 2 is a Literature Review, which will provide a historical perspective of traditional and new era leadership theories. It will specifically present highlighted information on the theories of transformational and transactional leadership as well as the theory of organizational culture. It will also describe the leadership/culture construct that has been previously researched in public and private organizations. Chapter 3 will describe the quantitative research methodology including the hypothesis, data collection, and data analysis. Chapter 4 will discuss the outcomes from the multi-factor leadership questionnaire and Dennison’s organizational culture survey. This chapter will emphasize the results from the research analysis, in turn answering the research question and its associated hypotheses. Chapter 5 will present the conclusion and implications of the study. It will also demonstrate any recommendations for future research to unanswered questions from this study. Employee Behavior Transactional Leadership Municipal Unionized Environment
15 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW This literature review will focus on the critical elements of the transactional and transformational leadership theories, as well as the theory of organizational culture. To develop a more comprehensive understanding, the review will emphasize the development of leadership theory as it began with traditional leadership and progressed to more contemporary leadership theories. It will also highlight the organizational structure of government organizations which many times have influenced the type of organizational culture that has developed. The literature related to the relationship of transformational leadership and organizational culture in the government sector is copious when they are evaluated independent of each other. Whereas previous studies have shown a direct correlation between transformational leadership and organizational culture in private organizations, little research has linked the two theories in municipal organizations (Block, 2003; Emery & Barker, 2007; Kest, 2007). Government Organizations Government or administrative systems were developed from three conceptual schools: Taylor’s (1911) scientific management, Gulick and Urwick’s (1937) administrative management, and Weber’s (1947) bureaucracy. Although three different schools of thought, the primary premise for each of these organizational theories was to maximize efficiencies. Thomas (2006) described scientific management as maximizing efficiency through planning, standards, and controls. Administrative management was described as maximizing efficiency through specializations of tasks and departmentalization. Bureaucracy was described as maximizing efficiency through staffing, hierarchy, and the establishment of rules. The classic organizational theory of bureaucracy (Weber, 1947) was the cornerstone for the organizational structure of government organizations. According to Landy and Conte (2007),