The influence of paternalistic leadership on organizational learning

Question presentation

Paternalistic leadership is a leadership style with Chinese cultural characteristics prevalent in Chinese enterprises (Zheng Boxun, 2004). Scholars, such as Silin (1976) and Westwood (1997), have studied the paternalistic leadership in Chinese culture. At present, the widely accepted view is that of Zheng Boxun et al. (2000) based on extensive and in-depth research. The research on paternalistic leadership is mainly conducted in two aspects. Firstly, the views of Zheng Boxun et al. (2003) and Zheng Boxun (2004) dominate the research on the constnict and measurement of paternalistic leadership. Their triarchic theory holds that paternalistic leadership includes authoritarian leadership, moral leadership and benevolent leadership. Second, the research on the effectiveness of paternalistic leadership is very popular. Many studies have found that paternalistic leadership has unique explanatory power on many aspects of companies, teams and individual employees, and the three factors reflect different explanatory power.

Paternalistic leadership is the concrete representation of transformation leadership, a hot topic in western leadership studies. When comparing the effectiveness of transformational leadership and paternalistic leadership, researchers found that the former does not have stronger explanatory power than latter (Zheng Boxun et al., 2003; Zheng Boxun, 2004). As the literature indicated that transformational leadership can promote organizational learning, and that paternalistic leadership with Chinese cultural characteristics is similar to transformational leadership in many aspects, we posit that paternalistic leadership is correlated to organizational learning. At the same time, the benevolent dimension of paternalistic leadership plays a significant role in promoting organizational learning, while authoritarian leadership has an inhibiting effect on organizational learning, though this study adopts the binary theory of paternalistic leadership. In short, the empirical studies on the influence of paternalistic leadership on organizational learning are still limited.

Therefore, this study adopts the triarchic theory of paternalistic leadership proposed by Zheng Boxun et al. (2003), and the organizational learning study adopts the six-dimension view of Yu Haibo et al. (2006). Based on the analysis presented, we hypothesize that:

Hypothesis 6:

Benevolent leadership has a significant positive effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

Hypothesis 7;

Moral leadership has a significant positive effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

Hypothesis 8:

Authoritarian leadership has a significant negative effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

The studies on the interaction effect among the three aspects of paternalistic leadership are sparsely documented in the literanire. Zheng Boxun et al. (2003) found that there was an interaction effect between benevolent leadership and moral leadership in the work attitude of subordinates: subordinates under high benevolent leadership and high moral leadership have the most positive work attimde. They also found that under high authoritarian leadership, there is a significant positive predictive effect between benevolent leadership and subordinates’ work attitude, but under low authoritarian leadership, the relationship between them was not significant. The results also show that under low authoritarian leadership, moral leadership has a significant positive predictive effect on the work attitude of subordinates, but under high authoritarian leadership, the effect of moral leadership will be inhibited. Zhou Hao and Lirong Long (2007) also found that moral leadership and authoritarian leadership have a significant interaction effect in distribution justice and procedural justice, while benevolent leadership and authoritarian leadership have a significant interaction effect in leadership justice. These results suggest that there is a similar interaction effect between paternalistic leadership and organizational learning. Therefore, the following hypotheses are set forth.

Hypothesis 9:

Benevolent leadership and moral leadership have a significant interaction effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

Hypothesis 10:

Benevolent leadership and authoritarian leadership have a significant interaction effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

Hypothesis 11:

Moral leadership and authoritarian leadership have a significant interaction effect on all dimensions of organizational learning.

 
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