House’s Path-goal Theory of Leadership – KEY POINTS

House’s Path-goal Theory of Leadership
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  • Emphasizes how a leader influences subordinates’ perceptions of both work goals and personal goals and the links, or paths, found between these two sets of goals.
  • The theory assumes that a leader’s key function is to adjust his/her behavior to complement situational contingencies.
  • Leader behaviors.
    • Directive leadership.
    • Supportive leadership.
    • Achievement-oriented leadership.
    • Participative leadership.
  • Situational contingency variables.
    • Subordinate attributes — authoritarianism, internal-external orientation, and ability.
    • Work setting attributes — task, formal authority system, and primary work group.
  • Path-goal theory predictions regarding directive leadership.
    • Positive impact on subordinates when task is clear; negative impact when task is ambiguous.
    • More directedness is needed when ambiguous tasks are performed by highly authoritarian and closed-minded subordinates.
  • Path-goal theory predictions regarding supportive leadership.
    • Increases satisfaction of subordinates working on highly repetitive, unpleasant, stressful, or frustrating tasks.
  • Path-goal theory predictions regarding achievement-oriented leadership.
    • Encourages subordinates to strive for higher performance standards and to have more confidence in their ability to meet challenging goals.
    • Increases effort-performance expectancies for subordinates working in ambiguous, non-repetitive tasks.
  • Path-goal theory predictions regarding participative leadership.
    • Promotes satisfaction on non-repetitive tasks that allow for subordinates’ ego involvement.
    • Promotes satisfaction for open-minded or non-authoritarian subordinates working on repetitive tasks.
  • Evaluation and application of House’s path-goal theory.
    • Many aspects of the theory have not been adequately tested.
    • Lacks substantial current research.
    • House has revised and extended path-goal theory into a theory of work unit leadership.