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Transformational leadership in the social work context: the importance of leader continuity and co-worker support
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
(Externa relationer (ER), Forskning)
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2014 (English)In: British Journal of Social Work, ISSN 0045-3102, E-ISSN 1468-263X, Vol. 44, no 4, 886-904 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Social work leadership has attracted growing attention in both social work practice and research. As social service organisations have changed in a variety of ways during the last decades, knowledge of how  leaders should act in these transformed organisations  is crucial. However,  few  empirical  studies have examined what  kind  of leadership  these changed  organisations  benefit from  and how  the  continuing  organisational change might  affect  the impact leaders have. The present study aimed at exploring the effect of transformational leadership of first line managers in a social work  setting.  We used a randomised  sample of  158 employees in a Swedish social service organisation, and examined the direct and indirect effect of transformational leadership on two important employee attitudes—commitment and role clarity. The results demonstrate the contri- bution of  transformational leadership  in creating  a workplace  where  employees  are committed and know  what  their  assignment is. Interaction effects of leader continuity and  co-worker  support  indicate  the  need  for  some stability  in  the  organisation in order  to increase the positive  influence  transformational leaders have on employees. This study has implications for leadership training in social work  and is a contribution.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press , 2014. Vol. 44, no 4, 886-904 p.
Keyword [en]
Transformational leadership, social service organisations, leader continuity
National Category
Psychology Social Work
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-62777DOI: 10.1093/bjsw/bcs174ISI: 000338829500007OAI: oai:DiVA.org:umu-62777DiVA: diva2:578313
Note

First published online: November 19, 2012

Available from: 2012-12-18 Created: 2012-12-18 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. The Transformational Leadership Process: Antecedents, Mechanisms, and Outcomes in the Social Services
Open this publication in new window or tab >>The Transformational Leadership Process: Antecedents, Mechanisms, and Outcomes in the Social Services
2013 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Social service organizations have changed dramatically during the last decade in an effort to increase effectiveness and control. This has placed new demands on those in leadership roles, and the need for knowledge of how to lead these transformed organizations has increased. Transformational leadership is a leadership model based on vision and empowerment, one suggested to increase both employee effectiveness and well-being, but the usefulness of this model in the public sector has been questioned. The general aim of this thesis is therefore to increase our understanding of the transformational leadership process in the context of social service organizations by investigating factors that explain when and why transformational leadership emerges and is effective. Questionnaire data from social service employees as well as interview data from managers were used in three empirical studies. Results from Studies 1 & 2 show that transformational leadership is positively associated with employee outcomes including commitment, role clarity, and well-being. Factors that might influence the effectiveness of transformational leadership were addressed in Study 1. It was found that leader continuity enhanced the effect of transformational leadership on role clarity and commitment, indicating that it takes time before transformational leaders actually have an effect on employees. Furthermore, co-worker support enhanced the effect on commitment, reflecting the role of followers in the transformational leadership process. The way in which transformational leaders influence employees was examined in Study 2, and climate for innovation mediated the relationship between transformational leadership and well-being both cross-sectionally and one year later. Finally, organizational factors that may hinder the emergence of transformational leadership were addressed in Study 3, and newly recruited managers were interviewed during their first year of leadership. Eight hindering factors in the organization to exhibit transformational leadership were identified, including the organizational structure, ongoing change, and the leaders’ working conditions. In all, this thesis has demonstrated the usefulness of transformational leadership in social services in terms of being associated with employee positive attitudes and well-being, and has also identified factors that may both help and hinder the transformational leadership process in this context.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Umeå universitet, 2013. 84 p.
Keyword
transformational leadership, social services, well-being, climate for innovation, leader continuity, co-worker support, mediation, boundary conditions, antecedents
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-79335 (URN)978-91-7459-709-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2013-09-13, Beteendevetarhuset, Bt102, Umeå universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2013-08-23 Created: 2013-08-14 Last updated: 2013-08-16Bibliographically approved

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Tafvelin, SusanneHyvönen, UlfWesterberg, Kristina

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