The Relationship between Leadership Theory Behaviors, Follower Attitudes and Behaviors, and Organizational Performance in United States County Governments

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Affairs and Administration

First Advisor

Dr. Matthew S. Mingus

Second Advisor

Dr. Barbara S. Liggett

Third Advisor

Dr. Nicholas A. Andreadis


The purpose of the quantitative study was to apply Bass' (1985) theory of transformational leadership to 372 U.S. county leaders, with an emphasis on determining whether or not their leadership behaviors are directly and/or indirectly related to the effectiveness of U.S. county governments. The major thesis was that leadership behaviors of county government leaders may have both a direct and indirect relationship to the effectiveness of county governments.

In the study, transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership behaviors served as the independent variables. Three follower attitudes and behaviors (i.e. follower job satisfaction, follower organizational commitment, and follower organizational citizenship behaviors) served as the intervening variables. Organizational performance was the dependant variable.

The target population of leaders was the U.S. appointed county chief administrators, elected chief county administrators, and commission chairs. The target population of followers was county government employees who report directly to the leaders identified in the study. Two forms of survey were used to gather data for the proposed study. The leader survey asked participants to respond to questions regarding their own leadership behaviors and the performance of their organization. The follower survey asked respondents to respond to questions regarding their leaders' leadership behaviors. In addition, the follower survey asked respondents to rate their own levels of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviors.

Overall, 1,377 US county government employees (leaders and followers) served as participants in this study, representing a total of 416 county government organizations across the county. However, the results were based on a final sample of 372 leader-follower pairs.

Hypotheses and research questions described in this study were tested using several statistical analyses; specifically, correlational analyses, regression analyses, and Barron and Kenny's procedure for testing significance of indirect effects. The results of the study revealed that the leadership behaviors of county government leaders were directly related to the performance of US county governments. The results also revealed that followers' levels of job satisfaction, organizational commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviors mediated the relationship between leadership behaviors and organizational performance.

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