Cognitive Complexity, Transformational Leadership, and Organizational Outcomes




Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Speech Communication

Document Type



Transformational Leadership, proposed by Burns and extended by Bass and associates, has been conceived as a more complete model of leadership than that advocated by the trait, style, contingency, or exchange theorists. Through the constructs of idealized influence, intellectual stimulation, inspiration, and individualized consideration, leaders can influence followers' behaviors in a manner that allows the followers to achieve a synthesis of their individual goals and the organizational goals. However, the theory as conceptualized does not account for how this influencing process occurs and does not clearly specify the contexts in which this style of leadership style will be either facilitated or impeded. This dissertation seeks to remedy at least a portion of this problem by linking interpersonal cognitive complexity with the construct of transformational leadership, suggesting how the influencing process may occur through leaders who employ more person-centered speech. This dissertation seeks to identify these interpersonally complex leaders who use rhetorical design logic to structure communication interactions which focus on mutual communication goals. Supervisory personnel at a large naval command were asked to complete the Role Category Questionnaire in order to ascertain their interpersonal cognitive complexity. Their direct reports completed the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire indicating their perceptions of these supervisors' leadership behaviors. These were then analyzed in relationship to specific organizational outcomes identified with the assistance of organization personnel. A confirmatory factor analysis of the Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire revealed a factor structure different from that reported by Bass and associates. Although the small number of returned and completed Role Category Questionnaires preclude any generalizations concerning this study, the role of interpersonal cognitive complexity and leadership should continue to be explored in order to further specify this broad and ambitious theory.



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Committee Chair

Jim Honeycutt



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