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Dissertation Abstract

Spiritual Leadership as a Universal Construct: An Empirical Study of Fry's (2003) Model of Spiritual Leadership in a South Korean Context

William D. Hunsaker
March 2012

This study was designed to examine the universality of Fry's (2003) model of spiritual leadership. To accomplish this, the primary purpose of this study was to replicate Fry's (2003) work in a South Korean context. In addition, another purpose of this study was to examine extensions of Fry's (2003) model, including inner life as an antecedent variable of spiritual leadership and life satisfaction as an outcome variable. A final purpose of this study was to test the reliability of spiritual leadership factors as a combined, higher-order factor. Survey data were collected from a financial services company that was regarded as a family-like organization with strong Confucian values. The survey instrument collected data related to spiritual leadership virtues including vision, hope/faith, altruistic love, meaning/calling, membership, and outcome variables such as organizational commitment, productivity, and life satisfaction. The sample size was 383 participants. The results of this study supported the universality of Fry's (2003) spiritual leadership model and the emergence of spiritual leadership in a Korean context. Additionally, the results supported (a) the inclusion of life satisfaction as an outcome variable and (b) the combination of spiritual leadership factors as a higher-order factor. However, results did not support inner life as an antecedent variable due to scale reliability falling below accepted standards. In this respect, the results revealed the difficulties in translating the concept of spirituality into Korean. Meanwhile, the results suggest the need to examine in greater detail the impact of altruistic love and vision, as mediated through meaning/calling and membership variables, on organizational commitment, given that altruistic love through membership continues to contribute such a high percentage of the total variance of organizational commitment. Going forward, the results of this study suggest the need to examine in greater detail the positive and negative aspects of Confucianism as it relates to (a) the emergence of spiritual leadership and (b) group-level analysis of spiritual leadership in a Korean context. Future research should also look at the role of organized religion and an individual's time perspective on the emergence of spiritual leadership.