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Spotlight on the Followers: An Examination of Moderators of Relationships Between Transformational Leadership and Subordinates’ Citizenship and Taking Charge


  • We would like to acknowledge Brad Harris and Zhijun Chen for their valuable comments on the manuscript.

  • This research was partially supported by NNSFC (70972067) awarded to Ning Li.

Ning Li, Management & Organizations, Tippie College of Business, The University of Iowa; 108 John Pappajohn Bus Bldg, W324 Iowa City, IA 52242-1994 Phone: 319-335-2117;


Drawing on substitutes for leadership theory, we revisit an often taken-for-granted assumption that transformational leadership is a universally positive management practice by examining subordinate-based aspects attenuating the relationship between transformational leadership and followers’ citizenship and taking charge. Using data collected from 196 followers and their leaders situated in 55 workgroups in 2 Chinese organizations, we found that followers’ citizenship and taking charge were not influenced by transformational leadership when followers perceived leaders as prototypical and were highly identified with their workgroups. Furthermore, following a differential pattern for citizenship and taking charge, followers’ traditionality weakened the relationship with citizenship, whereas followers’ learning goal orientation attenuated the relationship with taking charge. Introducing contingencies and specifying their underlying logic broadens the current theoretical spectrum for both substitutes for leadership and transformational leadership.

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