Leadership: Leadership and Organizational Learning Essay

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Transactional and transformational leadership impacts on organizational learning

Transactional and transformational leadership impacts on organizational learning*
Hugo Zagoršek, Vlado Dimovski, Miha Škerlavaj**
This study empirically relates two important areas of management research: the full-range theory of leadership and the organizational learning process. Specifically, this contribution addresses three issues: (1) the impact of transformational leadership and (2) of transactional leadership on the organizational learning process and (3) whether the influence of transformational leadership is stronger than of a transactional type of leadership. The results show that transformational leadership has a strong impact on all four constructs of organizational learning. A direct impact is evident only regarding information acquisition and behavioural and cognitive changes. Die vorliegende Studie bezieht sich auf zwei wichtige Bereiche der Managementforschung: Die Führungstheorie und den Prozess des organisationalen Lernens. Insbesondere befasst sich der Beitrag mit drei Themen: (1) der Auswirkung transformationalen Führung und (2) der Auswirkung transaktionaler Führung auf den organisatorischen Lernprozess sowie (3) ob der Einfluss der transformationalen Führung stärker ist als der Einfluss einer transaktionalen Führung. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass die transformationale Führung einen starken Einfluss auf alle vier Kontrukte organisationalen Lernens hat. Ein direkter Einfluss wird nur im Hinblick auf Informationsbeschaffung und Verhaltens- und Kognitionsveränderungen sichtbar. Key words: Transactional organizational learning process leadership, transformational leadership,

* Manuscript received: 24.09.08, accepted: 22.12.08 (0 revision) ** Hugo Zagoršek, Assistant Prof., Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubjana, Slovenia.Main research areas: Cross-cultural aspects of leadership in organizations. Vlado Dimovski, Prof., Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubjana, Slovenia. Main research areas: Learning organization, competitiveness, corporate strategy, developing knowledge-based organizations and labor markets. Miha Škerlavaj, Assistant Prof., Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubjana, Slovenia. Main research areas: Knowledge and learning networks, the impact of organizational learning and information technologies on performance and learning organization. Corresponding address: miha.skerlavaj@ef.uni-lj.si. In memoriam: We would like to dedicate this article to Hugo Zagoršek (1977-2008), who tragically passed away shortly after the completion of this work. 144 JEEMS 2/2009

Hugo Zagoršek,Vlado Dimovski, Miha Škerlavaj

1. Introduction
Organizational learning is one of the most important sources of sustainable competitive advantage that companies have (de Geus 1988), as well as an important driver of corporate performance (Stata 1989). Given the turbulent environments that organizations work within, continuous learning is a key driver of their ability to remain adaptive and flexible – that is, to survive and effectively compete (Burke et al. 2006). Studies have shown that organizational learning affects competitive advantage (Jashapara 2003), financial and nonfinancial performance (Bontis et al. 2002; Škerlavaj/Dimovski 2004; Dimovski/Škerlavaj 2005; Jimenez-Jimenez/Cegarra-Navarro 2006), tangible and intangible collaborative benefits in strategic alliances (Simonin 1997), the unit cost of production (Darr et al. 1995), and innovation (Llorens et al. 2005). Given the significance of organizational learning for corporate performance, understanding ways in which managers can influence the learning process in organizations is becoming increasingly important. Lei et al. (1999), Llorens et al. (2005), Senge (1990), and Swieringa/Wierdsma (1992) emphasize the importance of leadership for organizational learning. Maani/Benton (1999), Slater/Narver (1995), and Snell (2001) describe capability with regard to