Chapter 7

6 Pages

Human Resources and Organizational Behaviour
Course Code
HROB 2010
Casey Cosgrove

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Chapter 7: Path-Goal Theory Description • About how leaders motivate subordinates to accomplish designated goals • Stated goal of this theory is to enhance employee performance and employee satisfaction by focusing on employee motivation • The underlying assumption of path-goal theory is derived from expectancy theory, which suggests that subordinates will be motivated if they think they are capable of performing their work, if they believe their efforts will result in a certain outcome, and if they believe that the payoffs for doing their work are worthwhile • According to House and Mitchell (1974), leadership generates motivation when it increases the number and kinds of payoffs that subordinates receive from their work ◦ Leadership also motivates when it makes the path to the goal clear and easy to travel through coaching and direction, removing obstacles and roadblocks to attaining goal, and making the work itself more personally satisfying • Path-goal theory is designed to explain how leaders can help subordinates along the path to their goals by selecting specific behaviors that are best suited to subordinates needs and to the situation in which subordinates are working • Path-goal theory is complex ◦ It is useful to break it down into smaller units so we can better understand the complexities of their apporaches • Path-goal theory suggest that each type of leader behavior has a different kind of impact on subordinates motivation Major Components of Path-Goal Theory Leader Behaviors Directive Supportive Participative Achievement Oriented | Subordinate Characteristics | Task Characteristics | V Subordinates --- Motivation → Goal (s) Productivity Leader Behaviors • Path-Goal Theory approach has so far examined directive, supportive, participative, and achievement-oriented leadership behaviors Directive Leadership • It is similar to the “initiating structure” concept described in the Ohio State studies and the “telling” style described in situational leadership • It characterizes a leader who gives subordinates instructions about their tasks, including what is expected of them, how it is to be done, and the time line for when it should be completed • Adirective leader sets clear standards of performance and makes the rules and regulations clear to subordinates Supportive Leadership • Resembles the consideration behavior construct that was identified by the Ohio State studies • Supportive Leadership consists of being friendly and approachable as a leader and includes attending to the well-being and human needs of subordinates • Leaders using supportive behaviors go out of their way to make work pleasant for subordinates • Supportive leaders treat subordinates as equals and give them respect for their status Participative Leadership • Consists of inviting subordinates to share in the decision making • Aparticipative leader consults with subordinates, obtains their ideas and opinions, and integrates their suggestions into the decisions about how the group or organization will proceed. Achievement-Oriented Leadership • Is characterized by a leader who challenges subordinates to perform work at the highest level possible • This leader establishes a high standard of excellence for subordinates and seeks continuous improvement • Achievement-Oriented leaders show a high degree of confidence that subordinates are capable of establishing and accomplishing challenging goals • House and Mitchell (1974) suggested that leaders might exhibit any or all of these four styles with various subordinates and in different situations • Path-Goal Theory is not a trait approach that locks leaders into only one kind of leadership • Leader should adapt their styles to the situation or to the motivational needs of their subordinates Subordinate Characteristics • Determines how a leaders behavior is interpreted by subordinates in a given work context • Researchers have focused on subordinates needs of affiliation, preferences for structure, desires for control, and self-perceived level of task ability ◦ These characteristics and many others determine the degree to which subordinates find the behavior of a leader an immediate source of satisfaction or instrumental to some future satisfaction • Path-Goal Theory predicts that subordinates who have strong needs of affiliation prefer supportive leadership because friendly and concerned leadership is a source of satisfaction ◦ For subordinates who are dogmatic and authoritarian and have to work in uncertain situations, path-goal theory suggests directive leadership because that provides psychological structure and task clarity • Directive leadership helps these subordinates by clarifying the path to the goal, making it less ambiguous • TheAuthoritarian type of subordinates feels more comfortable when the leader provides a greater sense of certainty in the work setting • Subordinates desires for control have received special attention in path-goal research through studies of a personality construct locus of control that can be subdivided into internal and external dimensions. • Subordinates with an internal locus of control believe that they are in charge of the events that occur in their life, whereas those with an external locus of control believe that chance, fate or outside forces determine life events • Path-Goal Theory suggests that for subordinates with an internal locus of control participative leadership is most satisfying because it allows them to feel in charge of their work and to be an integral part of decision making • Subordinates with an external locus of control, path-goals theory suggests that directive leadership is best because it parallels subordinates feelings that outside forces control their circumstances • Leaderships affect subordinates motivation is the subordinates perception of their own ability to perform a specific task ◦ As subordinates perception of their own abilities and competence goes up, the need for directive leadership goes down ◦ Directive leadership becomes redundant and perhaps excessively controlling when subordinates feel competent to complete their own work Task Characteristics • Task characteristics include the design of the subordinates task, the formal authority system of the organization, and the primary work group of subordinates • These characteristics in themselves can provide motivation for subordinates • When a situation provides a clearly structured task, strong group norms and an established authority system, subordinates will find the paths to desired goals apparent and will not need a leader to clarify goals or coach them in how to reach these goals • In some situations, the task characteristics may call for leadership involvement • Tasks that are unclear and ambiguous call for leadership input that provides structure • Highly repetitive tasks call for leadership that gives support in order to maintain subordinates motivation • In work settings where the formal authority system is weak, leadership becomes a tool that helps subordinates by making the rules and work requirements clear • In contexts where the group norms are weak or non-supportive, leadership assists in building cohesiveness and role responsibility • Obstacles create excessive uncertainties, frustrations or threats for subordinates ◦ In these settings, path-goal theory suggests that it is the leader's responsibility to help subordinates by removing these obstacles or helping them around them ◦ Helping subordinates around these obstacles will increase subordinates expectations that they can complete the task and increase their sense of job satisfaction • In 1996, House published a reformulated path-goal theory that extends his original work to include eight classes of leadership behaviors ◦ Besides the four leadership behaviors (directive, supportive, participative and achievement- oriented) – the new theory adds: ▪ Work facilitation ▪ Group-oriented decision process ▪ Work-group representation and networking ▪ Value-based leadership behaviour • The essence of the new theory is the same as the original: ◦ To be effective, leaders need to help subordinates by giving them what is missing in their environment and b
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