A quantative evaluation of the reformulated 1996 path-goal theory of work unit leadership via structural equation modelling
Howieson, William B
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In 1996, Professor Robert J House published a reformulated Path-Goal Theory of Work Unit Leadership, based on his earlier 1971 and 1974 theories. Path-goal leadership attempts to explain the impact that leader behaviour has on subordinate motivation, satisfaction and performance. The aim of this context-specific study is to evaluate this reformulated ‘1996 Theory’ via Structural Equation Modelling with engineers from the Royal Air Force as the primary data source. This thesis offers a revised methodology to test path-goal leadership. In detail, three moderator variables are modelled with four independent variables to establish association with two dependent variables. In addition, five propositions from the ‘1996 Theory’ are examined. The analysis suggests that: the moderator influences preference for a particular type of leadership behaviour (by the subordinate); leader behaviour has an impact on subordinate satisfaction; leader behaviour affects satisfaction directly and performance indirectly; subordinate satisfaction has a direct affect on subordinate performance; and performance is influenced by the type of task demand. It is considered that there is association between the variables; however, the direction of this association is not known and it is difficult to predict accurately. Without further research, which is replicated and revalidated with other cohorts, causality in the leader behaviour — outcome variable paradigm cannot be argued. Due to time constraints, the research has several limitations. Not all propositions cited in the ‘1996 Theory’ are tested and several other variables are not examined. Finally, recommendations are made for future study, particularly replication with other cohorts in the public, private and third sectors to ensure validity. This will help in determining causality with leader behaviour and motivation, satisfaction and performance.