Imagery of Regent people and campus

Dissertation Abstract

The Ameliorating Effects of Transformational Leadership on Resistance to Change: Transformational Leadership and Conductivity for Schematic Conversion

Sherry Kull
Regent University

This study explored the relationship between leadership style and resistance to change through the theoretical lenses of transformational leadership and conductivity for schematic conversion. Drawing on psychoanalytic and cognitive theory, Mackert's (2001) theory of conductivity contends that resistance to change stems from preconscious cognitions between an individual's growth motivation schemas and homeostatic motivation schemas when the individual compares, on the unconscious level, the information from a change effort with his or her core cognitive constructs. These preconscious cognitions occur along three dimensions: knowledge of the change agent, knowledge of the change process, and challenge to the self. The resulting cognitive dissonance leads to negative affect, principally anxiety and loss, which manifests itself behaviorally as resistance to change. Leadership style enters this equation along the three dimensions of preconscious cognitions. Through the practice of transformational leadership (TL), an individual's knowledge of the change agent, knowledge of the change process, and challenge to the self allow the growth motivation schema to process the change information with minimal negative affect, so the person may positively participate in the change program. Consequently, TL was hypothesized to increase one's conductivity, specifically, increasing a follower's sense of alliance, expectations, personal meaning, organizational fit, and knowledge and investment, and decreasing the sense of discord. This hypothesis was tested in a field-based correlational study in a higher education setting, comparing faculty ratings of their president's leadership style with the faculty member's level of conductivity. Faculty completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ Form 5x-Short) and the Conductivity Scale. The results show that scores on the MLQ positively correlate with scores on the Conductivity Scale on conductivity and each of the six factors. Thus, transformational leadership is positively correlated with increased alliance, expectations, personal meaning, organizational fit, and knowledge and investment, and with lower discord.