THE MEASUREMENT AND CONCEPTUALIZATION OF OUTCOME VARIABLES IN LEADERSHIP RESEARCH: A COMPARISON BETWEEN COMMON PRACTICE IN LEADERSHIP RESEARCH AND RESULTS OF AN EMPIRICAL INVESTIGATION
Rauch, A. and Mohr, G., University of Leipzig, Germany
There is a vast amount of empirical literature existing concerning leadership effectiveness. Surprisingly, there seems to be little agreement on how to measure the effect of leadership on outcome variables. This is quite problematic because different dependent variables can have quite different meanings and each single outcome is prone to errors. For example, the promotion of someone into a higher position can be considered as success for the individual leader. However, for the employer such a promotion can even produce negative effects on success, if the promoted leader woks less efficient than he/she did in his former position. In this paper, we argue that different levels in the organizational hierarchy must be considered when evaluating leadership effectiveness. More precisely, raters at different levels disagree in dimensions and overall ratings on outcome variables. We used content analysis to categorize interview data on leader effectiveness comparing samples of employees, leaders, and union- members of Banks. Results indicate systematic differences between the three samples. Thus, different levels in the organization define performance quite differently. In a second step of our survey, we analyze outcome measures used in the empirical literature on leadership and compare these measures with our qualitative study. There are two main implications of the results of this study. First, the results suggest that the selection of outcome variables must be guided by theoretical arguments. Second, empirical results on leadership effectiveness can only be compared, if outcome variables are measured at the same level (individual-level, unit- level, organizational-level).