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Comparison of Different Leadership Styles: The ColeS Project

Comparison of Different Leadership Styles: The Context and Leadership Styles (CoLeS) Project

A major problem in the research and theory on effective leadership has been the lack of agreement about which leadership styles are relevant for organizations. Despite more than half a century of research on leadership styles, no integrated leadership theory currently exists. It is very difficult to compare and integrate the results from past empirical studies that use different sets of behavioral descriptions. Thus, the first goal of the CoLeS project is to compare and contrast the currently dominant leadership styles (i.e. transactional, transformational, and ethical leadership; laissez-faire; consideration and initiating structure; and leader-member-exchange). Can these leadership styles be distinguished empirically (i.e. factor analyses)? What are the rival effects of these leadership styles on outcome criteria (i.e. affective commitment, job satisfaction)? In order to monitor for the effect of liking (i.e. positive effect), this construct is monitored in all the analyses. The result of this part of the project will be a condensed set of effective leadership styles based on empirical data.


The second goal of the CoLeS project is to systematically assess the influence of contextual factors on the effectiveness of leadership. Examples of contextual factors include the leader’s gender, the size of the organization, the distance in the leader-follower relationship, and the heterogeneity of the team. Which of these contextual factors moderate the relationship between leadership styles and outcome criteria? While theoretical work has emphasized the importance of contextual factors within leadership research (e.g. situational constraints on leadership’s effectiveness), empirical research has seldom been carried out. Overall, it is hoped that the condensed set of leadership factors and the systematic assessment of contextual factors will result in advances in leadership theory.


Empirical Studies

The following reports present the initial empirical results of the CoLeS project. Each of these reports summarizes findings from one independent empirical sample.

CoLeS Report 1

CoLeS Report 2

CoLeS Report 3

CoLeS Report 4

CoLeS Report 5

CoLeS Report 6

CoLeS Report 7

CoLeS Report 8

CoLeS Report 9