Bases of social power, leadership styles, and organizational commitment

Antonio Pierro, Bertram H. Raven, Clara Amato, Jocelyn J. Bélanger
Published Online:
05 Feb 2014
Volume/Issue No:
Volume 48 Issue 6

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Affective organizational commitment reflects the extent to which organizational members are loyal and willing to work toward organizational objectives (Meyer & Allen, 1997). In particular, affective organizational commitment holds very important implications at all organizational levels (e.g., turnover rates, performance, and citizenship behavior). Whereas previous research has evinced the positive influence of transformational and charismatic leadership styles on affective commitment toward the organization (Bass & Avolio, 1994), little is known with regard to the nature of this relationship. In line with the interpersonal power/interaction model, the present investigation aimed to investigate the mechanism at play between transformational leadership style and affective organizational commitment. Specifically, we hypothesized that transformational leadership style would increase affective organizational commitment through its effect on willingness to comply with soft bases of power. In two studies, we subjected the foregoing hypotheses to empirical scrutiny. In Study 1, the proposed mediation model was empirically supported with Italian employees in the public sector. Attesting to the robustness of our findings, Study 2 replicated the findings of Study 1 with Italian employees from the public and private sectors. In addition, Study 2 replicated Study 1 using a different measure of transformational leadership. Both Study 1 and Study 2 provided results consistent with our hypotheses. Specifically, the present paper reports empirical evidence that (1) the more participants report having a transformational leader, the more willing they become to comply with soft (but not harsh) power bases, (2) in turn, greater willingness to comply with soft (but not harsh) power bases increases one's affective organizational commitment. These findings provide additional support for the interpersonal power/interaction model and pave the way for new research directions.

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