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Birgit Schyns, Pedro Neves and Rosalie J. Hall

This volume provides an overview of a variety of established and newer methods for leadership research. It is intended for any individuals wanting to undertake research on leadership, whether they are academics or practitioners, undergraduates, graduate students working on a dissertation, or new or established professionals. It will be particularly useful for academics who want to try a new method and graduate students working on a dissertation who want an overview of what is out there. This book covers quantitative as well as qualitative methods but with a stronger focus on the former than the latter. Included are chapters focusing on measurement and design as well as analytical methods. All chapters outline a method and provide examples of how to apply the method to leadership research. It concludes with an overview of the future of leadership research.

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SinHui Chong, Emilija Djurdjevic and Russell E. Johnson

Despite being useful and practical, explicit measures that assess deliberative or controlled work attitudes and behaviors are frequently associated with response biases that may undermine the validity of research findings. These concerns have prompted organizational researchers to turn to implicit measures in hopes of more accurately capturing work attitudes and behaviors, especially those driven by automatic processes that reside outside people’s awareness and control. As a result, implicit measures have become more popular in the organizational sciences in recent years. However, scholars in the leadership field have been comparatively slower to jump on the implicit measurement bandwagon despite this field being one of the earliest to acknowledge the role of implicit traits and theories in explaining how people define and classify individuals as leaders. This lag in the adoption of implicit measures is likely due in part to uncertainty about what implicit measures are, when it is appropriate to use them, and how to administer them. In this chapter the authors address these issues and provide guidelines for leadership scholars who are interested in utilizing implicit measurement.

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Eric F. Rietzschel, Barbara Wisse and Diana Rus

The use of experimental research methods can be of great benefit to researchers who want to gain more insight into causal relationships in leadership processes. In this chapter, the authors first explain which experimental paradigms and methods are often used by leadership researchers (e.g., vignette studies, laboratory experiments, field experiments, group experiments) and provide some examples. Subsequently, they address some unique strengths of these experimental methods. Some specific points they discuss are related to issues of internal validity/testing causal explanations, the opportunity of studying specific underlying processes in isolation, testing possible interventions, testing complex models, and the relatively low time investment needed to conduct some types of experimental research. Notably, experimental methods also have potential pitfalls and they discuss those as well by pointing to the pervasive use of student samples, a general lack of psychological realism/external validity, the use of low-impact manipulations of high-impact situations, and the use of short-term approaches to long-term phenomena. Finally, they present a look to the future of leadership research, highlighting recent developments in experimental leadership methods and pointing out opportunities for further development and refinement of these methods.

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Alexandra (Sasha) Cook and Bertolt Meyer

Although most definitions of leadership acknowledge the act of leading itself as being an interactional behavior between at least two individuals, we know surprisingly little about what leaders actually do and in which ways the concrete and observable behavior of formal or informal leaders in organizations and teams is related to outcomes such as leadership success or subjective leadership impressions by employees or team members. This chapter aims at summarizing existing methods for observing leadership behavior and leadership behavior coding schemes. Additionally, the authors take a closer look at current empirical evidence from emergent leadership research on behavioral parameters and their automated measurement with wearable sensors. Based on this review, they discuss the prospective operational capability of measures such as automated movement and interaction analyses in observational studies on leadership behaviors and their possible contribution beyond the limits of existing behavioral coding systems.

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Savvas Trichas

The aim of the literature discussed in the current chapter is to argue for the added value of using sophisticated facial expression coding to leadership research. A substantial number of empirical studies contributed to our knowledge of leaders’ emotional expressions. However, our awareness regarding the actual impact of leaders’ facial displays is still restricted, as the majority of research in the field of leadership has neglected the added contribution that can emerge from the integration of sophisticated facial action coding analysis. Specifically, both pronounced and subtle differences in muscle movement and intensity can produce quite different perceptual impacts. In addition to visual coding, the timing of expression and of sequential facial action units also needs to be considered, as it can also significantly influence observers’ perceptions. The leadership studies that have used detailed facial action coding methods highlight the significance of such methods in leadership research design. Based on the available leadership studies using sophisticated facial analysis, it is argued that the body of leadership research would benefit from incorporating detailed facial expression coding techniques into research designs. The outcomes of the integration of detail in terms of facial muscle movement, intensity, and timing could eventually expand the range of research exploration, depth of analysis, and magnitude of findings.

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Wen-Dong Li, Remus Ilies and Wei Wang

Behavioral genetics approaches to the study of individual differences have been widely applied in various disciplines in social sciences to investigate the “nature versus/and nurture” issue through disentangling influences from genetic factors (i.e., influences from nature) and environmental factors (i.e., influences from nurture). However, leadership research has only recently embraced such approaches. This is unfortunate considering the long-standing debate on whether leaders are born or made, and the more recent emphasis on person–environment interplay in leadership research. In this chapter, the authors first discuss the importance of the behavioral genetics approach to organizational research. They then introduce two types of behavioral genetics research that have been adopted so far: classic twin studies and molecular genetic research capitalizing on specific DNA information. Specifically, they explain how univariate biometric analyses, and bivariate biometric analyses based on twin studies can be applied to study important issues in leadership research. With respect to molecular genetic research, they discuss the candidate gene approach and genome-wide association studies, and how they can be useful in advancing leadership research. They also provide brief research examples based on previous research in which such approaches can be employed in addressing critical questions in leadership.

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Aurora J. Dixon, Jessica M. Webb and Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang

Traditionally, leadership research relies on tools such as observations and surveys to characterize leaders’ traits and behaviors, followers’ reactions, and leader–follower interactions and coordination to understand the leadership process. Recent development in biological and physiological assessments has offered leadership scholars additional ways to measure processes in leaders and followers. These methods can be used to capture subtle processes of different biological systems, such as activities in the brain, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems of leaders and followers. Such processes may not only be outside individuals’ awareness, but also have limited outwardly visible signs. Despite this, they provide additional insights into understanding how leaders exercise effective influence; how followers perceive, share, and respond to messages from leaders; and how leaders and followers reciprocally affect each other. In this chapter, the authors first introduce biological and physiological sensors, and discuss their applications in the leadership research. Next, they discuss various biological and physiological measures and their advantages over the traditional measurement tools typically used in leadership research. Third, they review the extent to which these biological and physiological measures already have been adopted by leadership researchers. Finally, recommendations and future directions are presented for leadership scholars who are interested in utilizing these measures.

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Rex B. Kline

In empirical studies of leadership, mediation analysis involves estimating presumed indirect causal effects of distal characteristics of leaders, such as emotional temperament, on more proximate, or intervening, variables, such as human resource policies, which in turn affect outcomes of interest for a particular organization. But there is more to mediation analysis than testing estimates of hypothesized indirect effects for statistical significance and then declaring that the hypothesis of mediation is supported if those tests yield significant results. Without proper research designs, attention to assumptions, careful measurement, and use of modern statistical methods, it is unlikely that mediation will actually be estimated. Described in this chapter are requirements and analytical methods for a more scientifically rigorous approach to mediation analysis. Emphasized is the technique of causal mediation analysis, where distal causal variables and proximal mediators are routinely assumed to interact, which gives a more realistic sense to the analysis. The application of this technique is demonstrated using results from an actual study of expected mediation effects in leadership.

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Roseanne J. Foti and Maureen E. McCusker

Although person-centered approaches are not new conceptually or within the field of industrial-organizational psychology, substantive questions remain. Traditionally, leadership researchers have used a variable-oriented approach, where emphasis has been on measuring specific leader or follower attributes (e.g., values, traits, beliefs, perceptions, behaviors) and then examining how these attributes vary in a population of interest, testing for antecedents and behavioral outcomes, as well as moderators and mediators. An emerging trend, however, has been to consider how leadership is experienced, as a whole, from the perspective of individual leaders and/or followers, and whether combinations, patterns, or profiles of attributes – within individuals – have implications for leadership outcomes. Unfortunately, researchers who attempt to conduct person-oriented research studies find themselves faced with an array of challenging theoretical and methodological questions. The overarching goals of the chapter are to address some of these challenging issues. The authors develop insights about (1) the theoretical considerations for deciding whether to conduct person-oriented research, (2) the variety of methods available, and (3) how the conclusions from person-oriented research are different from (and can complement) the information gleaned from more traditional variable-focused work.

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Francis J. Yammarino and Janaki Gooty

Multi-level issues and multiple levels of analysis are important in leadership research. In this chapter, the authors identify and explain multi-level issues particularly relevant for leadership theory and methods, including the primary levels in organizations; alternative views of each level; level-specific, emergent, and cross-level relationships; and time, fallacies, and analytics for multiple levels of analysis. They then explore in greater depth the level of analysis that to date has been the most neglected and misunderstood in leadership research – dyads. In doing so, they highlight different dyadic conceptualizations, including dependencies within and between dyads, independent and dependent dyads, and nested and cross-classified dyads; and highlight three methodological approaches for dyadic leadership research – actor–partner interdependence model, random coefficient modeling, and within and between analysis – with discussion of their similarities and differences. Finally, some recommendations for multi-level theory and methods in general, and dyadic research specifically, in the leadership realm are offered.