Revolution Lullabye

October 28, 2013

Blachard, et al, Followership Styles and Employee Attachment to the Organization

Blachard, Anita L., Jennifer Welbourne, David Gilmore, and Angela Bullock. “Followership Styles and Employee Attachment to the Organization.” The Psychologist-Manager Journal 12 (2009); 111-131. Print.

The authors, interested in the relationship between two followership behaviors identified in Robert Kelley’s 1992 study on followership, argue that strong followership behaviors do not necessarily correlate with positive job satisfaction or organizational attachment.

Through a survey of 331 faculty members at a R1 institution, the researchers investigated the attitudes and behaviors associated with two components of followership: independent critical thinking and active engagement. They found that employees with high levels of active engagement (those with a sense of ownership and responsibility, who take initiative and do high-quality work) generally have high levels of both extrinsic and intrinsic job satisfaction as well as affective and normative organization attachment. However, those employees with high levels of independent critical thinking often have low levels of extrinsic job satisfaction and normative organizational attachment (feelings of obligation toward their employer) because, as the authors state, these “critical thinkers, through the process of
questioning and evaluating information at work, may ultimately become more
aware of the negative aspects of their jobs” (126). The authors warn managers that independent critical thinking – behaviors and attitudes associated with analyzing situations, considering alternatives, critquing, and making evaluations – may not be a desired trait, especially among those employees who have low levels of organizational attachment. The authors suggest to managers that to offset the potential negative effects of independent critical thinking, they should help cultivate high levels of active engagement among their employees.

Notable Notes

testing the validity of Kelley’s followership traits – are they all positive?

relies on organizational behavior theories

Quotable Quotes

“Our results indicate that independent critical thinking can be a double-edged sword” for managers (127)

critical thinking skills – “These highly desirable skills” may be “detrimental to the organization and their employees” (128).

critical thinking – analyze situations, consider alternatives, evaluate and make judgments, give constructive criticism, think for themselves, approach problems creatively (112)

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