Developing and Evaluating a Literature Search Strategy

Research question: To what extent does the leadership style of a leader or executive impact the workplace culture and attitudes of employees?

Key terms: leadership style, attitudes, workplace culture

Search terms (synonyms): styles of leadership, management style, workplace culture, employee attitudes, the impact of leadership style, strategic leadership, employee morale, motivation, satisfaction, workplace environment.

Analogous Research

Leadership styles impacts work performance and morale of staff (Stewart-Banks et al., 2015):

  • Similar in nature to my research question, but focuses on performance aspects as well as the morale of staff, which can also greatly impact attitudes.

Leadership styles and outcome patterns for the workforce and work environment (Cummings et al., 2018):

  • Examines impacts on the workforce in general and the work environment as a physical and social space that contributes to the workplace culture examined in my research.

An investigation into the impact of leadership styles on employee retention… (Wakabi, 2016):

  • This research focuses directly on the outcome aspect of employee retention, which notably depends on the well-being of employees and their satisfaction to work in a specific environment.

Impact of leadership styles on employees’ organizational commitment… (Bučiūnienė & Škudienė, 2008):

  • Examine employees’ organizational commitment as an outcome of leadership styles, which can be included in the discussion that commitment will stem from attitudes and satisfaction in the workplace culture.

Exclusion and inclusion criteria

  • Time period – published within the last 10 years.
  • Place – examining predominantly Western-based or Australian companies
  • Database: Emerald Insight (business and industry-focused literature), Google Scholar (general research literature).

For the most part, I want to include research that directly analyzes the impact of leadership styles on an employee-related aspect in the workforce or workplace environment, such as motivation, performance, retention, satisfaction and attitudes. However, I want to exclude numerous articles which focus on leadership styles themselves such as comparison between genders, cultures, integrating them into communication and ethical functions of an organization. While these are important topics, the direct research topic seeks to investigate the relationship between leadership styles and employee outcomes. The search strategy will focus on publications within the last 10 years to ensure that the literature is modern since both theory and application in leadership and management practices have evolved rapidly in the last decades. It is vital that my research can be applied for the future, so the information needs to be relevant and up-to-date in this context. In terms of place, I want to focus on Western-based or Australian companies as these places share similar values and cultures, thus making it easier to make conclusions and comparisons without the involvement of intercultural considerations.

The approach to research will be to enter a combination of identified terms into selected search databases and examine the article titles and abstracts to determine relevancy to the topic. Selected articles are saved and categorized based on the type of information provided. As I conduct the research, I will conduct a mental thematic analysis as I go along to ensure that later on, I can effectively find the necessary information and categorize the data. The search terms are helpful to identify all relevant literature on the topic in its various variations since many of the terms can be interchangeable. I am mostly focused on identifying literature in leadership and management for this topic but will be open to exploring articles that seek to provide some elements of psychological analysis on the leadership styles in the relevant context that will be considered.

At first, I was not finding much relevant literature with the focus on ‘leadership styles’ and ‘employee attitudes’ keywords. I sought to expand the search, switching out management styles for leadership, while also trying a variation of keywords such employee ‘satisfaction, performance, wellbeing’ and others which are a reflection of attitudes. The search approach also led me to consider work performance and engagement as a factor in my research. After all, while attitudes may matter, the outcomes which are important are how well the workers are performing and engaging, so I realized that I need to take both my search strategy as well as my research question a step further. I also found very little literature on the concept of workplace culture in the way I envisioned it in the research question, with literature either identifying it as cause to the forming of certain leadership styles or a consequence of employee attitudes, not directly on how leaders shape it. I changed my approach by rephrasing the search by eliminating ‘styles’ and replacing work with ‘organizational’, forming a more direct request on ‘leadership shapes organizational culture’ which provided more successful results that were relevant to the research question despite missing some of the key terms in that specific instance.

Components of the Research

Karia, N., & Abu Hassan Asaari, M. H. (2019). Leadership attributes and their impact on work-related attitudes. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 68(5), 903–919. Web.

The research question for this article is how do leadership attributes impact employee work-related attitudes in higher education contexts. The study focused on distinct groups of impacts, offering hypothesis for each including organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and career satisfaction. The researcher selected a random sample of 1000 academic employees from public universities and distributed prepared questionnaires via email. 245 employees responded and researchers contacted them to facilitate completion. The questionnaire provided several options under each type of leadership and then under each type of work-related attitudes. The employees then rated each statement on a Likert 1-5 scale. The researchers used descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation, and multiple regression analysis to analyze the results. The study found that emergent leadership had the most positive effect on organizational commitment, innovative leadership on career satisfaction, and executive leadership on job satisfaction, but there was the most variance in emergent leadership among all three categories (Karia & Abu Hassan Asaari, 2019).

Mariappanadar, S. (2018). The impact of dissonance in schema-based leadership perceptions on employee engagement. Personnel Review, 47(7), 1309–1329. Web.

The research question for this article seeks to explore how individual-level perceptions of leadership styles affect employee engagement in the Australian context. The research is focusing on participative, supportive, and instrumental styles of leadership. The primary sample for the study was full-time non-managerial employees in five companies of various sizes in the consulting industry, for a total of 172 participants. The research was conducted in two stages. The first stage consisted of a questionnaire that measured the leadership styles that employees preferred to receive from their supervisors. In Stage 2, two weeks later, participants were asked to complete two questionnaires. One to measure the leadership style experienced, and the other regarding employee engagement. There were 12-13 questions or statements in each survey, with participants asked to rate responses on a 1-5 Likert Scale. Findings determined that both preferred and experienced supportive leadership styles were individually most beneficial to employee engagement. The effect becomes stronger generally when preferred and experienced leadership styles align, while a dissonance between the two led to lower engagement (Mariappanadar, 2018).

Appropriateness of the Research

Article I

This article relates to social science by studying a group of individuals in a specific social domain which is a workplace – in this case, a public university. The study also takes place in Malaysia, so it can be considered an examination of Malaysian society. It focuses on human relationships and interactions in the said domain. The study focuses on attitudes which is an observable empirical effect despite being an element of emotion/feelings. Researchers are using a quantifiable method of measuring attitudes via the Likert scale in a questionnaire. These attitudes are encountered in society through behaviors such as performance, turnover rates, workplace complaints, and other factors influenced. The source is reputable, coming from an international and respectable journal in performance management and measurement, founded in 1952, having a significant impact factor. The journal utilizes a double-blind peer-review process and maintains relatively high standards due to its longevity in the field (Emerald Publishing, n.d.). The influential factor for this article is small, cited only twice, but notably, it was published in the latter 2019. However, it was cited in the same journal by a different group of authors and then in a minor journal by another set of authors, suggesting that it is having some impact considering a rather specific nature of the topic.

Article II

The article meets the criterion of social science as it is studying various social domains and groups. It is focused on Australian society, particularly the subset of people who are employees in non-leadership positions in several consulting companies which is a large industry. The research focuses on the interactions of individuals within the workplace as they perform their jobs for the common goals of their workplace. The study is empirical as it seeks to measure the concept of employee engagement based on perceived leadership characteristics. Leadership styles are defined psychological profiles, and employee engagement can be measured through a range of metrics such as retention and productivity – it directly reflects on the performance of the company in achieving its objectives and completing projects. The journal is also highly respectable, focusing on human resource management theory, policy, and practice. It uses a blind peer-review process and screening by associate editors. The journal indicates a rigorous and high originality standard for its articles. The article has been cited 3 times since its publication in 2018, so it has relatively low influence. However, the researcher is well known in the field, being an academic as well as a pundit, writing for various magazines and news, which may have resulted in mentions of this study or its results to the general public.

Critical Reflection of Contribution of the Research

The authors of both articles discuss that their research contributes to the literature regarding the complexity of leadership in organizational literature and how it impacts employee work-related attitudes. A significant concern for both authors is that the results are not widely generalizable. First, it is the small sample size, below the 300 thresholds when some generalizable assumptions can be made. Second, the research framework is limited in both cases. One is a very specific context while the other uses a cross-sectional design which limits causal interpretations. Also, both research studies utilize self-reporting questionnaires which has the potential for bias or inconsistency. The researchers state the basic limitations that apply to their studies and I agree that these strongly undercut the generalizability of the results.

Potential recommendations would be to expand the sample size and attempt to include broader contexts. A longitudinal field study that begins with virtually no leadership experience to evaluate the preferred in comparison to the experienced types eliminates potential biases. Furthermore, the literature could delve deeper into exploring the contexts of leadership and cognitive prototypes of followers. A number of additional factors and interactions could be studied such as personal qualities, tasks, and contexts. Overall, this research is helpful at establishing a baseline of literature and empirical evidence towards the selected research question, but the articles fail to go into the depth of providing analysis on the correlation between leadership styles and workplace employee attitudes.


Bučiūnienė, I., & Škudienė, V. (2008). Impact of leadership styles on employees’ organizational commitment in Lithuanian manufacturing companies. South East European Journal of Economics and Business, 3(2), 57–66. Web.

Cummings, G. G., Tate, K., Lee, S., Wong, C. A., Paananen, T., Micaroni, S. P. M., & Chatterjee, G. E. (2018). Leadership styles and outcome patterns for the nursing workforce and work environment: A systematic review. International Journal of Nursing Studies, 85, 19–60. Web.

Emerald Publishing. (n.d.). International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management. Web.

Karia, N., & Abu Hassan Asaari, M. H. (2019). Leadership attributes and their impact on work-related attitudes. International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, 68(5), 903–919. Web.

Mariappanadar, S. (2018). The impact of dissonance in schema based leadership perceptions on employee engagement. Personnel Review, 47(7), 1309–1329. Web.

Stewart Banks, B., Kuofie, M., Hakim, A., & Branch, R. (2015). Education leadership styles impact on work performance and morale of staff. Journal of Marketing & Management, 6(2), 87-105.

Wakabi, B. M. (2016). Leadership Style and Staff Retention in Organisations. International Journal of Science and Research, 5(1), 412-416. Web.

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ChalkyPapers. "Developing and Evaluating a Literature Search Strategy." October 10, 2023.