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Transformational leadership, relationship quality, and employee performance during continuous incremental organizational change


  • An earlier version of this paper was presented at the 2010 annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Montreal, Canada. We thank Jeremy Bernerth, Alannah Rafferty, and David Waldman for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.

Correspondence to: Min Z. Carter, Department of Management and Marketing, Troy University, Troy, Alabama, U.S.A. E-mail:


Although transformational leadership has been investigated in connection with change at higher levels of organizations, less is known about its “in-the-trenches” impact. We examined relations among transformational leadership, explicit change reactions (i.e., relationship quality), change frequency, and change consequences (i.e., task performance and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB)) during continuous incremental organizational change at lower hierarchical levels. In a sample of 251 employees and their 78 managers, analyses revealed that the quality of relationships between leaders and employees mediated the influence of transformational leadership on employee task performance and OCB. We also found that change frequency moderated the positive association of relationship quality with task performance and OCB, such that associations were stronger when change frequency was high. Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.