• The relationship between transformational leadership and organizational change: An exploratory study of grassroots social service agencies

      Fisher, Elizabeth A.; Hopkins, Karen M., 1954- (2006)
      Social service organizations are continually called upon to modify and shift with the trends of the nonprofit, public, and private sectors. This continual process of change forces organizations to have considerable capacity to grow and develop, often called organizational capacity. In the business sector, considerable attention and research has focused on the role of leaders in managing organizational change and growth in capacity. In particular, the transformational nature of successful leaders has been studied. This study draws on these findings in order to begin to examine whether transformational leadership is also effective for managing change in small, grassroots organizations. Twenty-three organizations were included in the final analysis. Approximately half of the organizations were secular and half were faith-based. The independent variables included transformational and transactional leadership qualities, measured in a cross-sectional survey through the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) Form 5X, and the dependent variable was perceived change in organizational capacity, as measured through secondary data from a pre/post measure. ANOVAs were performed to examine the role of leadership qualities in organizational capacity building efforts. Qualitative data was collected through interviews with organizational members and other stakeholders and a review of case notes. Two organizations are presented as case studies in order to compare the qualities of their leaders with models of transformational leadership. There were no statistically significant relationships between either transformational leadership or transactional leadership and perceived change in organizational capacity. However, the organizational leaders demonstrated high levels of transformational leadership and low levels of transactional leadership, a finding consistent with successful leaders in past studies. The case studies illustrate two leaders who were transformational, yet one of the organizations was more successful in making positive changes. The implications are discussed in terms of organizational structure and the nature of grassroots organizations. The strengths of the study include a mixed-method approach and emphasis on the entire organization as the unit of analysis.