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A Path Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness

Robert J. House
Administrative Science Quarterly
Vol. 16, No. 3 (Sep., 1971), pp. 321-339
DOI: 10.2307/2391905
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2391905
Page Count: 19
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A Path Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness
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Abstract

An explanation of the effects of leader behavior on subordinate satisfaction, motivation, and performance is presented. The explanation is derived from a path-goal theory of motivation. Dimensions of leader behavior such as leader initiating structure, consideration, authoritarianism, hierarchical influence, and closeness of supervision are analyzed in terms of path-goal variables such as valence and instrumentality. The theory specifies some of the situational moderators on which the effects of specific leader behaviors are contingent. A set of general propositions are advanced which integrate and explain earlier fragmentary research findings. Several specific predictions are made to illustrate how the general propositions can be operationalized. The usefulness of the theory is demonstrated by showing how several seemingly unrelated prior research findings could have been deduced from its general propositions and by applying it to reconcile what appear to be contradictory findings from prior studies. Results of two empirical studies are reported that provide support for seven of eight hypotheses derived directly from the general propositions of the theory. A third study designed to test three of the original eight hypotheses is also reported. Two of these three hypotheses are successfully replicated. In the light of these results and the integrative power of the theory, it is argued that the theory shows promise and should be further tested with experimental as well as correlational methods.

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