Leadership Effectiveness on Contingencies Research Proposal

Excerpt from Research Proposal :

Theoretical Foundation

The basis of this research is contingency theory. Contingency theory suggests leadership effectiveness depends mostly on situational variables. Personality and other subjective measures can be considered contingencies. Likewise, emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence are all contingency variables that can impact leadership effectiveness. Leadership experience is also a contingency, which is why prior experience can be a variable mitigating leadership effectiveness. As Boyatzis, Good & Massa (2012) point out, emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence have been ignored or overlooked in research on leadership effectiveness, and the multiple types of intelligences are only recently being investigated within the province of contingency theory.

Contingency theory examines the “external and internal constraints that will alter what really is the best way to lead is in a given situation,” (Flinsch-Rodriguez, 2017, p. 1). Because emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence are all requisite for effectively responding to situational variables including crises or miscommunication, intelligence measures can be accurately considered the exact types of contingencies that impact leadership. The genesis of contingency theory can be traced to the middle of the 20th century and to Fred Fiedler, who developed Contingency Trait Theory and subsequently, Contingency Management Theory. Fiedler remained more concerned with traits as psychological measures than with intelligence (cognitive, emotional, or social). However, Fiedler’s analyses established a firm theoretical foundation that researchers can use to investigate the factors most predictive of leadership effectiveness. Rather than ascribe to universal rules for how organizations should be run, leaders are most effective when they know how to respond to surprises, crises, and inconveniences. How a leader reacts to the particular demands of each position, each organization, and each environment determine effectiveness. Both specific competencies and general intelligence will impact leadership performance outcomes, according to a contingency theory framework.

Contribution to Theory

This research will contribute to the mounting body of evidence in management contingency theory, coupled with evidence more specifically in emotional intelligence, cognitive intelligence, and social intelligence. Boyatzis, Good & Massa (2012) investigated the connection between generalized intelligence and leadership effectiveness from a contingency theory framework. I build on this research by altering the means of measuring leadership effectiveness and performance outcomes, and also by introducing an additional contingency variable: leadership experience. Contingency theory research has changed considerably over the past fifty years, generating a substantial but often inconclusive or even contradictory body of information. “Research over the past four decades has come up with an extended list of possibly significant contingencies that are faced by organizations, many of which suggest conflicting recommendations,” (Otley, 2016, p. 2). It has therefore become difficult for organizations to determine which features, traits, or intelligence measures to look for when hiring personnel, especially leaders instrumental in determining the fate of the organization. Otley (2016) recommends researching contingencies in a more dynamic context, using process-based modeling for the most accurate results. Although this research will not necessarily use a process-based methodology, it will contribute to the growing and evolving body of literature that can be of tremendous help to researchers and organizations.

Introducing the intervening variable of leadership experience also makes this research unique, contributing to contingency theory in a meaningful way. Usually, leadership contingencies are measured by the interplay of psychosocial variables like personality, culture, or communication style and leadership performance outcomes or organizational performance outcomes. This research introduces an additional element of experience to suggest that either experience impacts emotional, cognitive, and social intelligence, or that experience impacts the skills-based competencies required to succeed as a leader in a specific situation. Using a subjective measure of leadership effectiveness also contributes to the growing body of evidence in contingency theory because using quantitative measures like firm profitability has proven ineffective and unreliable in prior research (Otley, 2016). Leadership is itself a complex issue, and studying leadership effectiveness therefore demands complex, multimodal, and multifactorial analyses like this one.


Sources Used in Document:


Boyatzis, R.E., Good, D. & Massa, R. (2012). Emotional, social, and cognitive intelligence and personality as predictors of sales leadership performance. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies 19(2): 191-201.

Dinh, J.E., Lord, R.C., Gardner, W.L., et al (2013). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium. The Leadership Quarterly 2013: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2013.11.005

Flinsch-Rodriguez, P. (2017). Contingency management theory. Business.com. Retrieved online: http://www.business.com/articles/contingency-management-theory/

House, R., Javidan, M., Hanges, P. & Dorfman, P. (2002). Understanding cultures and implicit leadership theories across the globe. Journal of World Business 37(2002): 3-10.

Kayworth, T.R. & Leidner, D.E. (2015). Leadership effectiveness in global virtual teams. Journal of Management Systems 18(3): 7-40.

Otley, D. (2016). The contingency theory of management accounting and control. Management Accounting Research (2016): http://doi.org/10.1016/S1090-9516(01)00069-4.

Cite This Research Proposal:

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