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Dissertation Abstract

Measuring Organizational Leadership Context: Development and Validation of a Theory-Based Instrument

Michelle L. Kilbourne
March 2012

Within the leadership literature, the empirical research relative to organizational context is fragmented because it is often a supporting variable. The purpose of this research is to make organizational context relative to leadership a primary variable of interest by building on a literature review conducted by Porter and McLaughlin (2006) to develop and validate a theory-based instrument to measure organizational leadership context. The instrument synthesizes the empirical research relative to organizational context in six different categories including the culture/climate, goals, and processes of the organization as well as its current state, structure, and people composition. Researchers can use this instrument to facilitate systematic research directed at investigating the person-in-situation interaction, especially during times of ambiguity and uncertainty. Leaders can use the organizational leadership context instrument to obtain a better understanding of followers' perceptions of the organization and use this information to enhance their own mental models for solving complex problems. The instrument was developed using a two-step process: (a) item development and (b) scale identification and validation. A committee of leadership experts reviewed the items identified in the literature. Items that 75% or more of the panel members rated as a 4 or 5 and received an interrater agreement index of .70 or greater were considered for inclusion in the instrument for validation testing. A sample of 480 individuals participated in the validation test of the instrument with 46 items, resulting in a two-factor solution. The first factor, organizational trust (α = .968), is characterized by a perception of fairness, open communication, and collaboration. The second factor, organizational efficacy (α = .944), is characterized by the perception employees know the organization's goals and believe they will add value. Ideas for building on this research, including continued validation testing of the 25-item instrument, are provided.