The moderating effect of role ambiguity on the relationship between leader behavior and teacher satisfaction



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Purpose. Path-goal theory, advanced by Robert House, asserts that effective leader behavior has a positive impact on subordinate satisfaction. The path-goal theory also suggests that effective leader behavior is contingent, among other factors, the structure of the subordinate's task. The purpose of this study was to examine the path-goal proposition that the interaction of leader behavior and the degree of ambiguity in the subordinate's task will have a direct impact on job satisfaction. The basic question addressed in this study was: is role ambiguity a key variable that moderates the relationship between principal leader behavior and teacher satisfaction? Theoretical Framework. Five leader dimensions of leader behavior, as outlined by path-goal literature, were assessed in this study. Pathgoal theory indicates that these types of leader behavior can be exhibited in the same individual in various situations: (a) directive, (b) supportive, (c) participative, (d) achievement-oriented and (e) maintenance leader behavior. It was hypothesized that the interaction between these leader dimensions and the degree of role ambiguity the teacher perceives in his/her task would have a direct impact on total teacher satisfaction, as well as eight subscales of satisfaction. Research Procedures. The population of this study was secondary school teachers in three Harris County, Texas suburban school districts. A sample of 150 teachers was selected randomly. One hundred and twenty-seven teachers (81%) participated in the study. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire which measured three variables: leader behavior, role ambiguity and teacher satisfaction. The instruments utilized were the Principal Leader Description plus two leader behavior subscales developed by Griffin, the Role Conflict/Ambiguity Questionnaire developed by Rizzo, House and Lirtzman and the Job Satisfaction Survey. Multiple regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses. Findings Each of the five hypotheses predicted that the interaction of role ambiguity and a specific leadership construct would explain a significant amount of variation in teacher satisfaction, in addition to that explained by the main effects of leadership and role ambiguity. As predicted by the hypotheses, role ambiguity did interact significantly with four of the leadership dimensions. However, role ambiguity did not interact with achievement-oriented leadership to account for a significant amount of variation in teacher satisfaction, above that explained by the linear combination of the achievement-oriented leadership and role ambiguity variables.



Organizational behavior, Educational leadership