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Distance Dimensions: Potential Influencers of the Leader-Follower Relation

Potential dimensions of leader-follower distance employed in leadership literature have been the subject of this investigation. Napier and Ferris (1993) were among the first to observe leader-follower distance to be “a multidimensional construct that describes the psychological, structural, and functional separation, disparity, or discord between a supervisor and a subordinate” (Napier & Ferris, 1993, p. 326). In the early 1990s, the authors identified three elements influencing the overall construct: (1) psychological distance, (2) structural distance, and (3) functional distance. In their conceptual work, Antonakis and Atwater (2002) underline the multi?dimensional layout of the construct by encompassing (4) perceived social (or psychological) distance, (5) physical distance, and (6) perceived frequency of leader- follower interaction. The scholars establish the hypothesis that distances can coexist and are not mutually exclusive. Wilson, O’Leary, Metiu and Jett (2008) discuss (7) perceived proximity as a factor that might influence the dyadic relationship between leaders and followers. Liberman and Trope (2008) assert distance to be more than the contextual factor that it was once applied as. For them, distance comprises a feature of circumstances, such as (8) dissimilarities between leaders and followers. The following section aims to clarify distance dimensions recently applied in organizational leadership research.

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