The effect of leadership styles on employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes within an Australian regional university
thesisposted on 11.12.2017, 00:00 by Ataus Samad
In today’s uncertain, complex and volatile global work environment, organisations are increasingly recognising the effect of leadership on employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment and turnover intention. Globally and within Australia both employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes are of strategic importance for higher education institutions. Indeed, there is a need for a greater understanding of what leadership is, and how leadership may affect employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes, especially within the context of a regional Australian university. A review of the literature on organisational leadership has highlighted that researchers have either focused on the relationships between specific leadership styles and wellbeing, leadership styles and a particular organisational outcome, or the relationship between employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes. Therefore, there is a need for an extensive study exploring the inter-relationships between leadership styles, employee wellbeing, and organisational outcomes. Furthermore, there is also limited research on leadership in the Higher Educational Sector (HES) both internationally and within Australia. Considering the diversity of leadership practices within any organisation, an effective method of investigating HES leadership may be to apply leadership theory/theories that enable a concurrent examination of a diverse range of leadership styles and explore how these interrelate with both employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes. The review of literature showed that despite recent interest among scholars about the application of different leadership theories such as distributed leadership, servant leadership and authentic leadership, the culture of HES is still hierarchical and the concept of a command and control system of management is persistent in the HES. Hence, the Full Range of Leadership Theory (FRLT) that facilitates the concurrent investigation of transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles was chosen for this research to examine the relationships between leadership styles, employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes in an Australian higher education setting. The research was conducted among all (n=2050) employees of an Australian regional university and 270 employees who lead or supervise three or more employees within this university. A mixed method approach was applied to explore the research questions. This thesis outlines the rationale and purpose of the PhD project based on a detailed review of the relevant literature, the methodology used for the project, and findings of the research. The research showed that under the current leadership culture of the HES, employees of an Australian regional university prefer transformational leadership compared to transactional, laissez-faire, distributed, authentic, servant and spiritual leadership styles. Furthermore, the employees of the university also reported that among the three leadership styles within the FRLT (that is, transformational, transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles), leaders of this university are mostly transformational. Furthermore, majority of employees in a leadership role within this university also reported that their leadership style is transformational. The present research also found that transformational leadership style is conducive to employee wellbeing and organisational outcomes such as job satisfaction, organisational commitment and minimises employee turnover intention. No conclusive result about the effect of transactional leadership on employee wellbeing and organisational outcome could be established. However, laissez-faire leadership was found to be detrimental to employee job satisfaction and organisational commitment and it promoted employee turnover intention. A significant contribution to knowledge of the present research are the findings related to the mediating effect of employee wellbeing on the effect of leadership styles on organisational outcomes. Specifically, employee wellbeing was found to be a major contributing factor to each of the key organisational outcomes of employee job satisfaction, organisational commitment and turnover intention.