Not Even the Past: The Joint Influence of Former Leader and New Leader During Leader Succession in the Midst of Organizational Change
Author(s): Helen H. Zhao, Scott E. Seibert, Susan M. Taylor, Cynthia Lee, Wing Lam
Abstract: Leader succession often occurs during organizational change processes, but the implications of leader succession, in terms of reactions to the change, rarely have been investigated. Employee attitudes and behaviors during organizational change may be influenced jointly by a former leader who recently has transitioned out of the team and the new leader who recently has transitioned into it. We predict an interaction between former and new leaders’ transformational leadership on employees’ behavioral resistance to and support for change. On the basis of contrast effect theory, a highly transformational former leader constrains the potential effectiveness of the new leader, but a former leader low in transformational leadership enhances this potential effectiveness. We also propose conditional indirect effects transmitted through commitment to the changing organization. Our research was conducted in a large Chinese hospitality organization that was implementing radical organizational change, during which virtually all aspects of processes and products are changed. We collected a 2-wave multisource data from employees who had recently experienced a leader succession and their newly assigned leaders. On the basis of a final sample of 203 employees from 22 teams, we found empirical support for the proposed interaction effects. The conditional indirect effects were also consistent with our expectations, but the effect on behavioral resistance to change was stronger than the effect on behavioral support for change.
Publication Title: Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 101(12)
Pub Year: 2016
Pages: 1730 – 1738
URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/apl0000149
Keywords: leader succession, organizational change, transformational leadership, influence

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