A study of implicit leadership theories among business & management undergraduate students

Curtis, R, Williams, S and Loon, M (2014) A study of implicit leadership theories among business & management undergraduate students. In: 15th Internatioinal Conference on Human Development Research and Practice across Europe: HRD: Reflecting upon the Past, Shaping the Future, 24 - 26 June 2014, Edinburgh, UK.


This qualitative study explores the subjective experience of being led by investigating the impact of their Implicit Leadership Theories (ILTs) on followers' cognitive processes, affective responses and behavioural intentions towards leadership-claimants. The study explores how such responses influence the quality of hierarchical work-place relationships using a framework based on Leader-Member Exchange (LMX) Theory. The research uses focus groups to elicit descriptions of ILTs held by forty final year undergraduate Business and Management students. The data was then analysed using an abductive process permitting an interpretative understanding of the meanings participants attach to their past experiences and future expectations. This research addresses a perceived gap by making a theoretical contribution to knowledge and understanding in this field, focusing on how emotional responses affect their behaviour, how this impacts on organisational outcomes, and what the implications are for HRD practitioners. The findings support previous research into the content and structure of ILTs but extend these by examining the impact of affect on workplace behaviour. Findings demonstrate that where follower ILT needs are met then positive outcomes ensued for participants, their superiors, and their organisations. Conversely, where follower ILT needs are not matched, various negative effects emerged ranging from poor performance and impaired well-being, to withdrawal behaviour and outright rebellion. The research findings suggest dynamic reciprocal links amongst outcomes, behaviours, and LMX, and demonstrate an alignment of cognitive, emotional and behavioural responses that correspond to either high-LMX or low-LMX relationships, with major impacts on job satisfaction, commitment and well-being.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Implicit Leadership Theories, Leader Categorisation Theory, Follower expectations of Leaders
Divisions: Bath Business School
Chancelry and Research Management
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2017 16:36
Last Modified: 22 Feb 2022 14:52
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/9674
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