Transformational and paternalistic leaderships in Chinese organizations: Construct, predictive, and ecological validities compared in a Hong Kong sample

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Abstract

With a sample of 176 employees from organizations in Hong Kong, transformational leadership (TL) (a Western concept), and paternalistic leadership (PL) (a traditional Chinese notion) were compared regarding their construct, predictive, and ecological validities. For construct validity, TL had a high convergent validity and a low discriminant validity; whereas PL exhibited no convergent validity and a suspect discriminant validity due to inconsistent relationships among PL’s three dimensions (i.e., morality, authority, and benevolence). PL was then examined via its individual dimensions. For predictive validity, TL consistently predicted all measured managerial outcomes (e.g., work unit innovativeness, performance, cohesion, individual job satisfaction, and commitment), whereas PL’s separately examined dimensions inconsistently predicted only a small percentage of the outcomes. For ecological validity (i.e., the degree to which a leadership actually exists), TL was widely exhibited in organizations while PL was not. TL appears superior, pragmatically sound, and capable of a universal appeal. PL’s inconsistent conceptualization renders itself a nonfunctional concept with limited utility as a leadership construct. Scholars may need to reconsider whether PL, earmarked as the traditional Chinese leadership, actually still exists in modern Chinese organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-140
JournalIntercultural Communication Studies
Volume19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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