DEFINITION of 'Michigan Leadership Studies '

The Michigan Leadership Studies was a well-known series of leadership studies that commenced at the University of Michigan in the 1950s, with the objective of identifying the principles and types of leadership styles that led to greater productivity and enhanced job satisfaction among workers. The studies identified two broad leadership styles: an employee orientation and a production orientation. They also identified three critical characteristics of effective leaders: task-oriented behavior, relationship-oriented behavior, and participative leadership.

BREAKING DOWN 'Michigan Leadership Studies '

The studies concluded that an employee orientation rather than a production orientation, coupled with general instead of close supervision, led to better results. The Michigan leadership studies, along with the Ohio State University studies that took place in the 1940s, are two of the best-known behavioral leadership studies and continue to be cited to this day.

Criticisms of the Michigan Leadership Studies

The overarching assertion of the studies was that less direct pressure and control allows employees to be more productive and engaged with their tasks. However, there have been critiques and questions about the methodology and results of the studies. One such critique is that the context of the employees, leadership, and task were not taken into consideration, which raises the possibility that the situation at the organization might warrant one leadership style over another.

Furthermore, the disposition of the workers can be a factor in the leadership approach. The way employees perform may influence a leader to be more hands-on if greater direction is needed due to the complexities of the task. Likewise, if employees prove themselves to be capable and handle their tasks fluidly on their own, there is little need for more overt control. A team of veteran workers who have studied and worked on a task for many years might not require a direct manager to issue directives; thus, in that context, it is more likely for the leader to afford them more autonomy.

The narrow options of the studies also do not consider that one-size does not fit all organizations or circumstances. Using the same leadership at two different companies can still result in failure or success at other due other elements at play. It is common for leaders to adapt their styles over time and as warranted rather than remain committed to a fixed pattern,

Though the Michigan Leadership Studies remain notable, other theories and studies on leadership approaches have developed in more recent years that take into account different dynamics, such as the servant leadership philosophy.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Leadership Grid

    The Leadership Grid is a behavioral model used by organizations ...
  2. Least-Preferred Coworker Scale ...

    The least-preferred coworker scale, developed by Fred Fiedler, ...
  3. Succession Planning

    Succession planning is the strategy for passing on leadership ...
  4. Event Study

    An event study is an empirical analysis done on a security that ...
  5. Business Economics

    Business economics applies economic theory and quantitative methods ...
  6. Accountant International Study ...

    The Accountant International Study Group was an organization ...
Related Articles
  1. Financial Advisor

    Where and Why Advisors Are the Happiest (or Not)

    Advisors are less satisfied with their employers this year compared to last, a new study reveals. Here's why and what makes them happy.
  2. Personal Finance

    The Key To CFP Exam Success

    Up to 60 of the questions on CFP exam are case studies. Are you up for the challenge?
  3. Tech

    How Advisors' Personality Traits Impact Success

    Research shows that the advisor industry is made up all type of personalities, and that matching those up strategically can result in business growth.
  4. Personal Finance

    How Much Will It Cost To Study Abroad In The U.K.?

    The most popular destination for U.S. students studying abroad has a lot to offer – and ways to make it affordable.
  5. Managing Wealth

    Preparing Your Kids to Take Over Your Business

    Most family businesses do not survive in successive generations, but these steps can help ensure that yours will.
  6. Personal Finance

    Study Abroad In Italy: How Much Will It Cost?

    Study abroad in Italy is a popular choice for U.S. students, and it doesn't have to break the bank. Plus, the career payoffs for study abroad can be huge.
  7. Investing

    Studying Abroad: The Budget For Japan

    Find out what it would cost to get part of your education in Japan – maybe less than you think!
  8. Investing

    Should Water Be Privatized?

    Could water privatization mean lower costs, greater efficiency and higher quality compared to public sector providers? A look at the evidence so far.
  9. Managing Wealth

    Top 5 Ways to Retain Your Best Employees

    You need to think beyond salary to make the most talented people want to stay on for the long term.
  10. Investing

    Facebook Is a Great Stock But Bad For Your Health

    A detailed study suggests Facebook users may be less happy and less healthy
RELATED FAQS
  1. How do I differentiate between micro and macro economics?

    Differentiating between microeconomics and macroeconomics is primarily concerned with the difference of the scales of the ... Read Answer >>
Trading Center