PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to explore the structure, implicit attitude and consequences of followers' implicit followership theories in the Chinese cultural context through three studies. Study 1 explores the structure of followers' implicit followership theories. Study 2 examines the implicit attitude of followers towards followers' implicit followership theories. Study 3 verifies the impact of followers' implicit followership theories on the quality of collegial relationships.Design/methodology/approachThe data for study 1 (n = 321) and study 3 (n = 243) were collected through an online self-report questionnaire, and the data for study 2 (n = 30) were collected through the go/no-go association task.FindingsThe structure of followers' implicit followership theories includes two dimensions: positive followership prototypes and negative followership prototypes. Followers' implicit attitudes were more likely to match positive followership prototypes than negative followership prototypes. Positive followership prototypes had a significantly positive impact on the quality of collegial relationships, whereas negative followership prototypes had a significantly negative impact on the quality of collegial relationships.Research limitations/implicationsThe psychology and behaviour of employees can be better understood by exploring followers' implicit followership theories.Practical implicationsEmployees hold a relatively positive implicit attitude towards followers. Therefore, managers should provide positive feedback to improve employees' positive self-cognition so that employees can better serve the organization and better promote its development.Originality/valueThe paper is one of the few studies to explore followers' implicit followership theories in the Chinese cultural context.
Leadership & Organization Development Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: May 7, 2020
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