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Developed in the 1970s by Martin Evans and Robert House, the path-goal theory of leadership holds that subordinates,

satisfaction and performance, depends on their expectancies and valances which, in turn, depend on the leaders behaviour or style. Furthermore, the expectancies and valences of subordinates are also affected by two basic contingency variables. Characteristics of the subordinates and characteristics of the environment faced by the subordinates. These contingency variables moderate the relationship between leader behaviours and subordinates satisfaction and performance. The relationship among these variables is shown in exhibit. The components of this model will be discussed below.

Components of the path-goal model


Subordinate characteristics e.g. locus of control, need for affiliation taskrelated abilities Leader behaviour . Supportive . Directive . Achievement oriented . participative

Subordinate expectancies and valencies

Subordinate satisfaction and effort

Environment factors . Tasks . Formal authority system . Work group

The path-goal model identified four distinct types of leader behaviours: 1. Supportive leadership- Leaders with this style show concern for the well being and personal needs of subordinates. 2. Directive leadership- Leaders with this style provide specific guidance for subordinates by setting standards of performance, scheduling and coordinating work efforts, and asking subordinates to follow rules and regulations. 3. Achievement-oriented leadership- This style of leadership involves setting challenging goals, seeking improvements in performance, emphasizing excellence in performance, and showing confidence that subordinates will achieve high levels of performance. 4. Participative leadership- Leaders with this style solocit suggestions and advice from subordinates and take this information into account when making decisions.

According to expectancy models, employees make conscious rational decisions about their work behaviour. They will choose to apply effort to those tasks that they find attractives and that they believe they can perform. The effect of a leaders behaviour is to modify subordinates perceptions regarding the valued outcomes that are attainable and to influence the perceived probabilities of attaining them.

Subordinate characteristics are one set of situation variables that moderate the relationship between leader behaviour and the outcome variables of subordinate satisfaction and effort. In other words, the personal characteristics of employees partially determine how they will react to a leaders behaviour. For example, employees who have an internal locus of control(that is, who believe rewards are contingent upon their own efforts) may be more satisfied with a participative leadership style, whereas employees who have an external locus of control(who believe rewards are beyond their own control) may be more satisfied with a directive style. For another example, employees with strong needs for acceptance and affiliation may find their needs satisfied with a supportive leader, while employees with strong needs for autonomy may be motivated more by participative leaders than by supportive ones. Finally, indivisuals who feel that they have high levels of task related abilities may not respond well to directive leader behaviour. instead., they may prefer an achievementoriented style of leadership.

Environmental factors are another set of situation variables that moderate the relationship between leader style and outcomes. Variables in these categories may function either to motivate or to constrain the subordinates. For example, an intrinsically satisfying job may serve to motivate employees. On the other hand, the technological features of a task, such as an assembly line, may constrain behaviour variability or, the work group may motivate the subordinates by praising indivisual who did the most to help the group achieve its performance objectives.

Although results of the empirical research testing path-goal theory have shown some promise, many of the findings are questionable because the theory itself contains some deficiencies. For example, the theory does not suggest how different situation variables are likely to interact. In addition, the theory considers the effects of the four leader behaviours separately, even though it is likely that interactions among the various behaviours exist. Despite criticisms, however Houses path-goal theory has made a significant contribution to the topic of leadership because it specified important leadership behaviours and situation variables that should be considered in almost any organizational setting.