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School principals' leadership style and school outcomes: The mediating effect of powerbase utilization

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Purpose ‐ While the significance of principals for the organizational behavior of schools is crucial, school leaders' influence on school outcomes is indirect and mediated through various means that leaders employ in order to increase the productivity of their school. Although the exercise of power is viewed among the main factors explaining followers' willingness to comply with leaders' demands and means to promote school effectiveness, it is rather surprising that the educational administration literature lacks substantial evidence testifying to the mediating effect that principals' use of various powerbases has on school effectiveness. The purpose of this paper is to make an attempt to fill this gap. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Questionnaires were administered to 954 teachers coming from 191 randomly sampled public elementary schools. Findings ‐ Evidence testifying to the relation between leadership styles and use of powerbases suggests that the transformational leadership style is positively related to the use of soft powerbases and negatively related to the use of harsh powerbases. Findings also show that leadership style and powerbase utilization differentiate effective and ineffective schools. Finally, it is evident that soft powerbases such as expertise, personal reward and referent powerbases partially mediate the relation between the transformational leadership style and school effectiveness, moderating the negative relation found between the passive leadership style and school effectiveness. Originality/value ‐ These findings confirm that powerbases are in fact a mechanism through which school leaders influence school effectiveness. Implications are further discussed.
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Keywords: Effectiveness; Leadership; Organizational effectiveness; Schools

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 29, 2014

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