Date of Award:

2000

Document Type:

Dissertation

Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department:

Family, Consumer, and Human Development

Advisor/Chair:

Jay D. Schvaneveldt

Abstract

Leadership in organizational contexts has received considerable attention through the years. Although much is known about what constitutes effective leadership in an organizational setting, little is known about leadership as it pertains to the family. To address this limitation, a theoretical model of family leadership was developed. This model draws on transformational leadership and proposes five areas in which leadership could be carried out to lead and strengthen the family unit. These five areas include ( 1) leading the family with a vision, (2) maintaining a task orientation, (3) fostering close familial relationships, (4) establishing cooperation and teamwork, and (5) building connections and ties with support networks that are external to the family.

In accordance with this theoretical model, it was hypothesized that favorable family outcomes, such as higher levels of cohesion, effective communication, lower levels of conflict, and family involvement are associated with a transformational style of leadership. This hypothesis was tested using a convenience sample of 231 two-parent families. consisting of a father, mother, and an adult child from each family. Family well-being was assessed by each child using The Family Profile, and the leadership style of each parent was assessed using the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Using cluster analysis, four combinations of husband-wife leadership styles emerged. Based on these four leadership clusters, ANOV A was used to assess differences in family outcomes.

Significant differences were found when comparing the couples characterized by active transformational leadership to those who were passive, or had a laissez-faire style of leadership. Compared to couples with passive leadership styles, couples with active leadership styles tended to have higher scores on the positive dimensions of family wellbeing (Family Concordance, Marital Strength, Active Involvement, and Religiosity) and lower scores on the negative dimension (Family Discordance). With the exception of a difference between the couples in the active leadership cluster and the couples in another cluster on the Religiosity outcome scale, no other differences were found among the couples in the four leadership clusters.