Climate strength – How leaders form consensus
Department of Human Services, The University of Haifa, Haifa 31905, Israel
This research further develops the theories concerning climate strength in organizations. Climate strength is a measure for
within-group variability in climate perceptions. We studied groups in 3 military fighting brigades, using a validated military safety-
climate questionnaire to check the relationship between safety climate strength and two possible antecedents: leadership
(transformational and passive), and interaction with group members (military cohesion). Statistical analysis confirmed our
hypotheses. When analyzed separately, cohesion and transformational leadership correlated positively, and passive leadership
correlated negatively with climate strength. When cohesion was analyzed in a combined model with passive leadership, both main
and interaction effects on climate strength were found. However, when cohesion was included with transformational leadership
only the interaction effect was significant. The results suggest that climate strength is influenced both by leadership style and group
social interaction, and emphasize the conditions under which each antecedent is relevant to forming consensus. Theoretical and
methodological implications are discussed.
© 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Climate strength; Transformational leadership; Passive leadership; Group social interaction; Cohesion
Climate involves workers' perceptions of an organization in terms of policies, procedures, practices, routines and
rewards (e.g. Jones & James, 1979; Rentsch, 1990; Schneider, 1990). Hence, climate focuses on how a “situation” is
linked to workers' perceptions. The climate concept was first used as a ‘global’ term to describe several topics related to
employee perception of the organization in terms of supervisory style, co-workers, employee competence, decision
making, and performance rewards (Jackofsky & Slocum, 1988; See also: Abbey & Dickson, 1983; Joyce & Slocum,
1984; Newman, 1977; Pritchard & Karasick, 1973). However, Schneider (1975) concluded that such a concept of
climate was too amorphous, inclusive, and multi-faceted, and proposed that it be conceptualized and studied as a
specific construct with a particular referent or strategic focus indicative of organizational goals (Schneider, 1975;
Reichers & Schneider, 1990). Today, Schneider's (1975) facet-specific description of climate is used in most climate
research (Hofmann & Stetzer, 1996; Schneider & Bowen, 1985; Schneider, Bowen, Ehrhart, & Holcombe, 2000;
Zohar, 1980, 2000).
Operationally, climate is assessed by aggregating individual perceptions to the required unit of analysis, and taking
the mean to represent the climate level for that entity. Schneider & Rentsch (1988) clarified that climate level is a “sense
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The Leadership Quarterly 19 (2008) 42 – 53
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