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

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Asia Pacific Journal of Management

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Springer New York LLC


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


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.



Print ISSN




Funding Information

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. {LU399913}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2017, Springer Science+Business Media New York. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Additional Information

This research is based on Tingting Chen’s doctoral dissertation completed under the supervision of Kwok Leung at City University of Hong Kong. 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.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Chen, T., Li, F., & Leung, K. (2017). Whipping into shape: Construct definition, measurement, and validation of directive-achieving leadership in Chinese culture. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 34(3), 537-563. doi: 10.1007/s10490-017-9511-6