Why were the Ohio Studies important?

The most comprehensive and replicated of the behavioral theories resulted from research that began at Ohio State University in the late 1940s. These studies sought to identify independent dimensions of leader behavior. Beginning with more than 1,000 dimensions the researchers eventually narrowed the list down two categories that accounted for most of the leadership behavior described by employees. They called these two dimensions initiating structure and considerations.

Initiating structure

The extent to which a leader defines and structures his or her role and the roles of employees to attain goals


The extent to which a leader has job relationship characterized by mutual trust, respect for employees, ideas, and regard for their feelings.

Initiating structure refers to the extent to which a leader is likely to define and structure his or her role and those of employees in the search or goal attainment. It includes behavior that attempts to organize work, work relationships, and goals. For example, the leader who is characterized as high in initiating structure assigns group members to particular tasks expects workers to maintain definite standards of performance ad emphasizes the meeting of deadlines.

Consideration is defined as the extent to which a leader has job relationships characterized by mutual trust and respect for employees’ ideas and feeling. A leader who is high in consideration helps employees with personal problems, is friendly and approachable and treats all employees as equals. He or she shows concern for his or her followers comfort, well being status and satisfaction.

Extensive research based on these definitions found that leader who is high in initiating structure and consideration (a high- high leader) achieved high employee performance and satisfaction more frequently than one who rated low on other consideration initiating structure or both. However the high-high style did not always yield positive results. For example, leader behavior characterized as high on initiating structure led to greater rates of grievances, absenteeism, and turnover and lower levels of job satisfaction for workers performing routine tasks. Other studies found that high consideration was negatively related to performance ratings of the leader by his or her manager. In conclusion, the Ohio State studies suggested that the high-high style generally produced positive outcomes, but enough exceptions were found to indicate that situational factors needed to be integrated into the salary.

What were the leadership dimensions of the university of Michigan Studies? Leadership studies undertaken at the University of Michigan’s Survey Research Center, at about the same time as those being done at Ohio State, had similar research objectives: to locate the behavioral characteristics of leaders that were related to performance effectiveness. The Michigan group also came up with two dimensions of leadership behavior, which they labeled employee oriented and production oriented. Leaders who were employee oriented emphasized interpersonal relations; they took a personal interest in the needs of their employees and accepted individual differences among members. The production oriented leaders in contrast tended to emphasize the technical or task aspect of the job, were concerned mainly with accomplishing their group’s tasks and regarded group members as a means to that end.

The conclusions of the Michigan researchers strongly favored leaders who were employee oriented. Employee oriented leaders were associated with higher group productivity and higher job satisfaction. Production oriented leaders were associated with lower group productivity and lower worker satisfaction.

What is the Managerial Grid?

The managerial grid is a two dimensional view of leadership style developed by Robert Blake and Jane Mouton. They proposed a managerial grid based on the styles of concern for production which essentially represent the Ohio State dimensions of the consideration and the Michigan dimensions of employee orientation and production orientation.

What did the behavioral theories teach us about leadership?

We have described the most popular and improving attempts to explain leadership in terms of behavior. There have been other efforts but they faced he same problem that confronted the early behavioral researchers. They had little success in identifying consistent relationships between patterns of leadership behavior and successful performance. General statements could not be made because results would vary over different ranges of circumstances. What has missing was a consideration of he situational factors that influence success or failure. For example, would Mother Teresa have been a great leader of the poor at the turn of the century? Would Ralph Nader have risen to lead a consumer activist group has he been born in 1834 rather than in 1934 or in Costa Rica rather than in Connecticut? It seems quite unlikely yet the behavioral approaches we have described could not clarify such situational factors. These uncertainties – the application of certain leadership styles in all situations – led researchers to try to better understand the effect of the situation on effective leadership styles.