Perceptions of Leadership and Climate in the Stressor-Strain Process: Influences on Employee Appraisals and Reactions

Jose F Rodríguez, Florida International University


This paper attempts to place the role of transformational leadership within the stressor-strain process by investigating the potential indirect effects of the perceptions of transformational leadership on counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) through its influence on perceptions of the communication climate and trust. Leaders perceived as being transformational will offer an ameliorating effect on employee appraisals of stressors (i.e., conflict). Non-task organizational conflict is a stressor that captures employees’ perceptions of conflict with co-workers attributable to organizational factors (e.g., unclear or contradictory policies). Previous studies have found this type of stressor to be associated with negative health and workplace outcomes. Counterproductive work behaviors are a form of workplace incivility in which employees engage in minor acts of retribution. Transactional theories of stress place particular importance on appraisal mechanisms to explain the experience of stress and subsequent engagement in CWBs. Volumes of literature in the field of leadership have suggested that transformational leaders have the ability to influence the ways employees make meaning of events at work. However, few studies have investigated the mechanisms by which employees’ appraisals of stressors are influenced. This study investigated the potential role of trust in leadership and communication climate as possible mechanisms. Organizational climate research focuses on how employees, through their social interactions, create and ascribe meaning to work events. Communication climate specifically focuses on the supportive and defensive qualities of an organization’s communicative norms and expectations. Previous research suggests trust to be a key factor in mitigating the experience of stressors and strains. Participants were primarily recruited from positions in higher education administration, using a sample of convenience, snowball sampling. Survey instruments were administered during two waves of data collection, for a full-panel sample of N = 123. Results suggested transformational leadership indirectly effected engagement in CWBs through its influence on the experience of non-task organizational conflict. Trust in leadership was not a significant predictor. Communication climate provided a mixed picture. While perceptions of a more supportive communication climate were associated with less conflict and fewer CWBs, the data did not support the indirect effects of transformational leadership through communication climate.

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Recommended Citation

Rodríguez, Jose F, "Perceptions of Leadership and Climate in the Stressor-Strain Process: Influences on Employee Appraisals and Reactions" (2018). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI10976859.