Leadership can be interpreted in several ways, as every organization will encounter with certain types of leadership. Leadership keeps an organization functioning properly and can courage the employees to keep up hard work. Leadership can be seen as a complex process as well, a process that eventually leads to better organizational learning and an improved organizational performance. The results that flow out of leadership, such as the performance, can be deeply analyzed and might even be bettered when the right leadership style for the concerned organization is discovered.
This is the reason that in this paper, further research on leadership styles and its influences will be introduced. A research proposal on this research topic will be initiated. The literature review about leadership and organizational learning culture, written by Xie (2018), will be a guideline to set up a new research on leadership theories. As follows from this literature review, multiple fields in this topic might need further research.
Several leadership styles are proposed in the review, such as transformational, transactional or servant leadership. There is no widely research done yet on the effect of different leadership styles. As the review stated, more diverse environments still need to be studied. Because several leadership styles exist, it is necessary to look at all those styles and their influences on both the learning culture as the performance of an organization. Both of them can be influenced by the different styles. (hypotheses) That is the reason why studies on organizational performance will also be consulted, since theories about performance will be needed to guide this study.
The reason why not only organizational learning culture, but also the organizational performance will be taken into consideration is because organizational learning aspects mostly result into certain outcomes in organizational performance. It is crucial because the effects of leadership spread more than only on learning culture, so factors such as organizational performance will almost always be affected. Everything that develops or happens within the organization can be an outcome of previous leadership actions. Next to that, organizational performance can also serve as a prove that an appropriate leadership style has been used and that the leader succeeded in guiding the organization’s employees. If employees succeeded in organizational learning because of a certain leader but cannot seem to apply things on the workplace then performance will not be improved. This might indicate a lack of suitable leadership style, but other factors could play a role. That is why it is important to analyze any further consequences of certain leadership styles with a new study. As mentioned in the literature review of Xie (2018), organizational performance is the end goal of organizational learning processes, the best fit of leadership style needs to be found through research. So organizational performance is an important variable to involve in possible further studies. However, in the review it became clear that most studies focused on influences on learning cultures and not enough on the results on organizational performance (Xie, 2018).
Xie (2018) determined that SMEs were less studied than large organizations which might induce issues as well. Since these small and medium organization might struggle with other difficulties, having a closer look on their leadership styles might give new insights on the research topic.
Thus, the research question is: What is the effect of different leadership styles on the organizational learning culture and organizational performance?
The reason to choose this research question is the importance of conducting a broader study on this research topic. Earlier studies have already made clear that knowledge on the theory is still missing. A few examples from the used articles make clear that there are multiple research gaps. Literature about the relation of leadership styles and organizational learning did not have a large-scale list of leadership styles before which means that correlations of several leadership styles and organizational learning culture have not been identified yet (Xie, 2018). Some studies have selected two leadership styles and linked these to OLC (Carmeli and Sheaffer, 2008; Xie, 2018). However, it might be valuable if the connections of leadership styles and OLC would be analyzed further in a business setting. Xie (2018) claimed that even though researchers recognized the importance of connecting leadership with OLC, limited empirical studies have analyzed this connection with regard to more recent leadership styles. Some researchers have been examining what recent leadership styles support OLC (Kurland et al., 2010; Xie, 2018). Cardwell (2012) argued that strategic leadership, which is a combination of transformational and transactional leadership, is favorable for organizational learning. Nevertheless, not enough studies have been done on other (recent) leadership styles yet (Xie, 2018).
Another study has been done on the impact of leadership on trust, knowledge management and organizational performance (Koohang, Paliszkiewicz and Goluchowski, 2017) The purpose was to build a research model on this topic. Paliszkiewicz et al. (2015) stated that effective leadership leads to successful organizational performance. Many studies have been done on the positive impact of leadership on performance, but none of these had focused on a leadership style in particular. None of the recent leadership styles were included in these studies and they did not include a certain type of leadership. This study concludes that research should still be done on a larger and different population sample, and that the generalizability of the findings is limited (Koohang et al., 2016).
The study of Poulsen and Ipsen (2017) found that few studies had investigated the wellbeing of employees over a long period and what would be the best way to manage them (Crawford et al., 2011; Poulsen and Ipsen, 2017). The aim of this study was exploring practices that ensure organizational performance. However, the limitations were that this was a small research study. Further research should be conducted in multiple countries and a bigger sample size (Poulsen and Ipsen, 2017).
Several studies have stated that transformational leadership has a positive impact on employees with regard to organizational learning (Flores et al., 2012; Park and Kim, 2018). The study of García-Morales, Jiménez-Barrionuevo, and Gutiérrez-Gutiérrez (2012) concluded that transformational leadership does have an impact on organizational learning and organizational performance, but future research should be conducted in more than one country and in other sectors (García-Morales et al., 2012).
Not only the understudied leadership styles are an issue of the existing research, because the lack of variation in the samples is problematic as well. Most of the studies have been conducted within large non-profit organizations, so small- and medium-sized organizations are rarely involved in the research samples. It is important to include SMEs in research because they face different, unique challenges and have a lack of strategic thinking, which might lead to other outcomes when investigating the variables (Gibb, 1997; Xie, 2018).
The research gap is, as follows from several studies, that multiple leadership styles still need to be studied, in more diverse environments.
The contribution of this study are the new insights about the connection of leadership styles, OLC and organizational performance that will be found. This is favorable knowledge for a lot of organizations, since organizational performance can be improved through a yet unknown way of using leadership. The contribution to companies will be that employees might get more motivated for organizational learning and that productivity may increase.
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