In the study being analyzed, Klein, Wallis & Cooke (2013) seek to determine whether and to what extent an organization’s leadership style affects its cultural norms and, consequently, its overall effectiveness. After reviewing a wide range of previous studies concerning the impact of leadership on organizational culture and effectiveness, the researchers formulated two hypotheses: a) goal setting, task facilitation, interaction facilitation and supportive leadership are positively related to constructive organizational cultures and b) goal setting, task facilitation, interaction facilitation and supportive leadership are positively related to defensive organizational cultures (Klein et al., 2013, p. 245). In order to test their hypotheses, the authors relied on two standardized questionnaires, namely the OCI and the OEI, to gather a large amount of quantitative data from 2662 respondents in 311 organizations (Klein et al., 2013, p. 243). While the OCI is widely employed within the academic and corporate sectors to evaluate organizations’ cultural values in terms of expectations and behavioral norms, the OEI uses a set of attitudinal and behavioral metrics – including leadership – that are likely to affect an organization’s effectiveness (Klein et al., 2013, p. 247).
After conducting a preliminary analysis of their hypotheses through the Pearson correlation coefficient, the researchers relied on multiple regressions to examine the relationship between the aforementioned leadership styles and constructive / defensive cultural values. The results are reported in a clear and accurate manner, thus enabling the reader to understand how they were obtained. The findings presented in the paper clearly indicate that goal emphasis, task facilitation and interaction facilitation are strongly related to constructive corporate cultures, whereas consideration leadership styles are negatively related to aggressive / defensive cultural norms. In addition, the findings support the initial proposition that cultural norms have a profound impact on both quality and corporate effectiveness. After summarizing their conclusions in a concise manner, the researchers identified limited generalizability and variability as the main limitations associated with their research (Klein et al., 2013, p. 251).

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As one of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart relies on a clear set of values and beliefs to inspire its human resources while maintaining its competitive edge. In order to promote typically constructive organizational values across its numerous branches, the company has been training its own leaders in such a way to help them balance their commitment to people with their concern for tasks. Analyzing the way in which Walmart’s managers support and motivate their employees, it is evident that the company has succeeded in developing its own hybrid leadership style, which has no doubt contributed greatly to its international expansion. Walmart’s leadership style may be defined as a combination of interaction facilitation, goal emphasis and task facilitation, as leaders are expected to respect, value and support their subordinates, who are consistently referred to as “people”, rather than human resources. At the same time, leaders are required to be decisive, enforce the company’s internal regulations and establish transparent merit systems aimed at rewarding high-performing employees.

In view of these considerations, it is evident that Walmart’s decision to embrace a hybrid leadership style revolving around task facilitation, interaction facilitation and goal emphasis has played a key role in shaping its corporate culture, thus affecting its overall corporate effectiveness, to the extent that the U.S. retailer is known for its quality products, excellent customer service, affordable prices and competitive loyalty programs. Despite “consideration” – intended as the extent to which managers exhibit warm and supportive attitudes towards their employees – being a highly effective leadership style, both Klein et al.’s (2013) findings and Walmart’s corporate values suggest that there exists a positive relationship between constructive corporate cultures and leadership styles combining task / interaction facilitation and goal emphasis.

  • Klein, A.S., Wallis, J. & Cooke, R.A. (2013). The impact of leadership styles on organizational
    culture and firm effectiveness: An empirical study. Journal of Management & Organization, 19(3), 241-254.