Leader-Employee Gap in Verbal Transactional Leadership and Distributed Leadership: Evidence From a Randomized Field Experiment

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Leadership behavior only contributes to goal attainment in public organizations if the employees perceive the behavior. Given that studies on self-other agreement show large gaps in perceived leadership between leaders and employees, it is highly relevant to ask how HRM-programs such as leadership training can reduce these gaps. Based on a large randomized field experiment including 130 leaders and their 4,800 employees in the Danish municipality of Aarhus, this article compares how different types of leadership training affect gaps in perceived leadership. Results from pre- and post-intervention surveys show a decreased gap in leader-employee perceptions of verbal transactional leadership, while the gap in perceived distributed leadership did not change. This suggests that leadership training can make leaders’ and employees’ perceived leadership behaviors more aligned, but less so for employee-centered leadership approaches such as distributed leadership.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReview of Public Personnel Administration
Pages (from-to)80-103
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


  • distributed leadership
  • field experiment
  • leadership training
  • self-other agreement
  • transactional leadership

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