Date of Award:

2012

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Advisor/Chair:

Dr. Gary Stewardson

Abstract

Leadership—it is a difficult phenomenon to precisely define, and perhaps even more importantly, it is difficult to identify the effects thereof. In business, it is believed that leadership is important, that it really matters. There have been countless books written on the subject. There have been numerous researchers who have tried to debunk all the myths and rumors, using qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research strategies. Over time, leadership theories have changed. Theories that include trait- centered leadership, situational leadership, servant leadership, democratic leadership, Laissez-faire leadership, Theory X, Theory Y, and others have been well documented and researched. Transactional leadership and transformational leadership theories are fairly new concepts on the leadership landscape. Both have provided revolutionary ideas into the way leadership is viewed today. Industrial distribution is an integral component to the manufacturing industry. For many companies, in many different market segments, industrial distributors provide a channel to the market for their products. Therefore, the health and success of industrial distribution companies are critical for the overall strength of the U.S. economy. There has been little research conducted on the effect of leadership at industrial distributors, specifically at the branch level. So, does leadership really matter? This research attempts to quantitatively examine the benefits, or effects of, transformational and transactional leadership style on the success of industrial distributors, at the branch level. Using the Multilevel Leadership Questionnarie (MLQ), leadership data were gathered from both leaders and followers at the branch level of industrial distributors engaged in the sale of construction-related goods and services. Moderated multiple regression techniques were used to analyze the data collected on independent variables (transformational and transactional leadership), moderating variables (age, duration, education, and experience), and the dependent variables (sales and margin). The results of the analysis indicate that transformational leadership style has a statistically significant, positive relationship to year-over-year sales and margin.

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