Relationship between Leadership and Characteristics of Learning Organizations in Deployed Military Units: An Exploratory Study
Di Schiena, Raffaella
Van Aken, Eileen M.
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Previous research has shown that military units operating in the context of risky missions display the characteristics of a Learning Organization. The present work provides preliminary exploratory evidence about the association between Learning Organization characteristics and leadership styles used by military leaders in the field. Based on the literature, we hypothesized that higher Learning Organization characteristics would be associated with a more transformational style of leadership that inspires followers. With this purpose, the five characteristics of a Learning Organization as defined by Peter Senge (Systems Thinking, Team Learning, Shared Vision, Mental Models, and Personal Mastery) and leadership styles as defined by the multifactor leadership model of Bass and Avolio (Transformational, Transactional, and Passive-Avoidant), were measured among commanding officers who had recently served in a mission abroad. Associations with organizational outcomes (Extra-Effort, Effectiveness, and Satisfaction) were also investigated for both Learning Organization characteristics and leadership styles. The correlations showed that Learning Organization characteristics were highly related to Transformational leadership dimensions, and also with Transactional leadership based on Contingent Rewards; meanwhile no association was found with a Passive-Avoidant leadership. Organizational outcomes were also related to Transformational leadership, Contingent Rewards and to various characteristics of a Learning Organization. Implications of these results, as well as avenues for future research, are also discussed.