Pursuing empirical goals of a cross-sectional study requires following recommendations for specialized use of questionnaires (Creswell, 2013, p.146). Crosssectional design is used to discover variations and patterns in social research, thus a high number of cases is favorable (Bryman & Bell, 2011, p. 54). A survey assists in conducting quantitative cross-sectional research as it gathers information in a highly structured way and saves costs and time (Cooper & Schindler, 2008, pp. 215, 226). Survey research can be completed by using different methods of data collec?tion. For the purpose of this work, online self-administered surveys were used as they provide accessibility to audiences who otherwise would not have been available. Furthermore, surveys received by e-mail are usually perceived as more anonymous. By selecting online self-administered questionnaires, interviewer errors such as sampling errors or data entry errors may be reduced. Respondents may still cause errors by failing to complete surveys or amending their answers to questions to render them more socially favorable (Cooper & Schindler, 2008).
Validated English and German language versions of the questionnaires were employed as data collection took place in international corporations. Although headquarters of the companies are all located within the German-speaking part of Switzerland or Liechtenstein, involving a proportion of distantly led followers would undoubtedly result in a variance of nationalities of respondents. Participants could select their language preference on the welcoming screen when clicking on the link directing them to the online survey.
In order to maximize participation in the survey, some guidelines were followed, especially in those phases when responses could drop. For example, correctness of e-mail addresses was ensured as e-mails were forwarded by HR gatekeepers from within the organizations. Furthermore, e-mail subject line and description were concise to spark interest in the study. Special efforts have been made to ensure instructions are understood and participants know what to do at all time during the study.
The research instruments used in this work consist of multiple independent validated measurement tools that have been administered to large numbers of respondents before. The targeted audience received a detailed description of the instrument covered in the following paragraphs. As described in the literature chapter of this work, empirical investigations in leadership research have thus far been subject to heavy criticism as most have focused on the leader as central figure, failing to take either interactions between leaders and followers or perceptions of leadership into account (Crevani et al., 2010). The present study confronts this issue by focusing on the followers because the way leadership is perceived, is essential (Bass, 1990).