Remapping the construct of paternalistic leadership

Wai Kwan Lau, Loan N.T. Pham, Lam Dang Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to lay the necessary conceptual and empirical groundwork that advances knowledge about paternalistic leadership (PL). PL is reinterpreted as a leadership style consisting of authoritative, moral and benevolent leadership. The mediating role of trust is examined, and a formal, unified construct model of PL is suggested through evidence of construct validity. Design/methodology/approach: An on-site survey was used to collect data from 312 full-time employees in nine organizations in China. Factor analysis, reliability and validity test, and an analysis of bivariate correlations were conducted. Findings: The new construct of PL achieved a positive alignment and coherence among the three dimensions. Subordinates’ trust was found to be critical for paternalistic leaders to be perceived as effective leaders. Research limitations/implications: Leadership and its effectiveness were examined only at the dyadic level. The levels of the supervisors and their effectiveness differ because some were from middle management, whereas others were from first line managers. Practical implications: Trust is an important explanatory mechanism for the relationship between PL and employee performance, especially in China. It is a key factor that creates loyalty and builds a good relationship between leaders and subordinates. Social implications: Trust signals a strong sense of sharing within the relationship. It induces positive emotional feelings in their leader by the subordinates and, therefore, taps into positive evaluations about the effectiveness of their leader. Originality/value: This study developed the theoretical underpinnings and provided measurement instruments for PL. It offered a formal, unified construct model of PL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-776
Number of pages13
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 11 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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