Whipping into shape : construct definition, measurement, and validation of directive-achieving leadership in Chinese culture

Tingting CHEN, Fuli LI, Kwok LEUNG

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Based on Confucian thought, this research theorizes a new form of hierarchical approach to leadership in Chinese culture. This leadership concept, termed as directive-achieving leadership, reflects the Confucian juxtaposition of hierarchical control with a training and achieving focus. Study 1 developed a measure for this leadership style and found evidence of its construct validity. In Study 2, we collected three-wave, multi-source data from 208 employees and their immediate supervisors working in a large state-owned group corporation located in China. This study examined how directive-achieving leadership affects subordinate job performance, in comparison with authoritarian leadership. Our findings revealed that directive-achieving leadership had a positive mediated relationship with subordinate job performance through role clarity and cognition-based trust. By contrast, authoritarian leadership showed no effect on the role clarity, trust, or job performance of subordinates. We discuss the implications of the hierarchical approach to leadership in the Chinese context and provide directions for future research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)537-563
Number of pages27
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Management
Issue number3
Early online date30 Mar 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017

Bibliographical note

his research is based on Tingting Chen’s doctoral dissertation completed under the supervision of Kwok Leung at City University of Hong Kong. This work is funded by a grant from Early Career Scheme, Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (Project no. LU399913) and Li Ning Dissertation Grant of International Association for Chinese Management Research awarded to Tingting Chen. An earlier short version of this research was presented in the symposium entitled “Indigenous or universal? New progress in research on Chinese leadership” in the IACMR Hong Kong Conference during June 20–24, 2012.


  • Authoritarian leadership
  • Confucianism
  • Directive-achieving leadership
  • Hierarchical approach to leadership
  • Role clarity
  • Trust


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