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Transformational Leadership in the Public Sector: Does Structure Matter?

Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory , Volume 20 (1) – Jan 1, 2010


Oxford University Press
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Transformational Leadership in the Public Sector: Does Structure Matter?


This study contributes to our understanding of leadership in public sector organizations by investigating the effect of organizational structure on the transformational leadership practices of municipal chief administrative officers. Using data from a national survey of senior managers in local government, the findings of this study suggest a number of possible explanations for why public sector organizations exhibit higher levels of transformational leadership than what scholars traditionally expect. Our findings suggest that the structure of these organizations may not be as bureaucratic as commonly believed and that some bureaucratic characteristics had little, if any, adverse affect on the prevalence or practice of transformational leadership behaviors. In particular, although organizational hierarchy and inadequate lateral/upward communication were associated with lower transformational leadership, no relationship was found between transformational leadership behaviors and two types of organizational red tape. Contrary to expectations in the mainstream leadership literature, however, the use of performance measurement by municipal organizations was associated with a significant increase in reported transformational leadership behaviors.
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