Should supervisors communicate goals or visions? The moderating role of subordinates' psychological distance

Arne Vanderstukken*, Bert Schreurs, Filip Germeys, Anja Van den Broeck, Karin Proost

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

There is an ongoing debate about how supervisors should communicate desired endstates to subordinates, that is, whether they should set concrete goals (according to goal setting theory) or communicate abstract visions (according to transformational leadership theory). In this paper, we draw on construal level theory (CLT) to reconcile both views and develop a model of when supervisors communicating concrete goals versus abstract visions are seen as more effective. According to CLT, being psychologically removed from (vs. near to) an event or object makes people construe the event or object in a more abstract (vs. concrete) way, which, in turn, leads people to process abstract (vs. concrete) information more fluently and thus evaluate the sender of this information more favorably. Accordingly, supervisor effectiveness may be higher in conditions where communication and psychological distance to the supervisor converge (vision/far and goals/close) rather than diverge (vision/close and goals/far). We tested this hypothesis in two experiments, using different operationalizations of psychological distance. In these studies, we found supervisor effectiveness to be higher when vision was communicated at a far versus near distance and goals were communicated at a near versus far distance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)671-683
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Applied Social Psychology
Volume49
Issue number11
Early online date16 Aug 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

Fingerprint

Psychology
Communication

Keywords

  • CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP
  • CONSTRUAL-LEVEL
  • MOTIVATION
  • ORIENTATION
  • PERFORMANCE
  • PICTURE
  • TIME
  • TRANSACTIONAL LEADERSHIP
  • TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP
  • WORK

Cite this

Vanderstukken, Arne ; Schreurs, Bert ; Germeys, Filip ; Van den Broeck, Anja ; Proost, Karin. / Should supervisors communicate goals or visions? The moderating role of subordinates' psychological distance. In: Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2019 ; Vol. 49, No. 11. pp. 671-683.
@article{9e363a79520a4b5f9a9558225fbd41ee,
title = "Should supervisors communicate goals or visions?: The moderating role of subordinates' psychological distance",
abstract = "There is an ongoing debate about how supervisors should communicate desired endstates to subordinates, that is, whether they should set concrete goals (according to goal setting theory) or communicate abstract visions (according to transformational leadership theory). In this paper, we draw on construal level theory (CLT) to reconcile both views and develop a model of when supervisors communicating concrete goals versus abstract visions are seen as more effective. According to CLT, being psychologically removed from (vs. near to) an event or object makes people construe the event or object in a more abstract (vs. concrete) way, which, in turn, leads people to process abstract (vs. concrete) information more fluently and thus evaluate the sender of this information more favorably. Accordingly, supervisor effectiveness may be higher in conditions where communication and psychological distance to the supervisor converge (vision/far and goals/close) rather than diverge (vision/close and goals/far). We tested this hypothesis in two experiments, using different operationalizations of psychological distance. In these studies, we found supervisor effectiveness to be higher when vision was communicated at a far versus near distance and goals were communicated at a near versus far distance.",
keywords = "CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP, CONSTRUAL-LEVEL, MOTIVATION, ORIENTATION, PERFORMANCE, PICTURE, TIME, TRANSACTIONAL LEADERSHIP, TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP, WORK",
author = "Arne Vanderstukken and Bert Schreurs and Filip Germeys and {Van den Broeck}, Anja and Karin Proost",
year = "2019",
month = "11",
doi = "10.1111/jasp.12626",
language = "English",
volume = "49",
pages = "671--683",
journal = "Journal of Applied Social Psychology",
issn = "0021-9029",
publisher = "Wiley Blackwell",
number = "11",

}

Should supervisors communicate goals or visions? The moderating role of subordinates' psychological distance. / Vanderstukken, Arne; Schreurs, Bert; Germeys, Filip; Van den Broeck, Anja; Proost, Karin.

In: Journal of Applied Social Psychology, Vol. 49, No. 11, 11.2019, p. 671-683.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Should supervisors communicate goals or visions?

T2 - The moderating role of subordinates' psychological distance

AU - Vanderstukken, Arne

AU - Schreurs, Bert

AU - Germeys, Filip

AU - Van den Broeck, Anja

AU - Proost, Karin

PY - 2019/11

Y1 - 2019/11

N2 - There is an ongoing debate about how supervisors should communicate desired endstates to subordinates, that is, whether they should set concrete goals (according to goal setting theory) or communicate abstract visions (according to transformational leadership theory). In this paper, we draw on construal level theory (CLT) to reconcile both views and develop a model of when supervisors communicating concrete goals versus abstract visions are seen as more effective. According to CLT, being psychologically removed from (vs. near to) an event or object makes people construe the event or object in a more abstract (vs. concrete) way, which, in turn, leads people to process abstract (vs. concrete) information more fluently and thus evaluate the sender of this information more favorably. Accordingly, supervisor effectiveness may be higher in conditions where communication and psychological distance to the supervisor converge (vision/far and goals/close) rather than diverge (vision/close and goals/far). We tested this hypothesis in two experiments, using different operationalizations of psychological distance. In these studies, we found supervisor effectiveness to be higher when vision was communicated at a far versus near distance and goals were communicated at a near versus far distance.

AB - There is an ongoing debate about how supervisors should communicate desired endstates to subordinates, that is, whether they should set concrete goals (according to goal setting theory) or communicate abstract visions (according to transformational leadership theory). In this paper, we draw on construal level theory (CLT) to reconcile both views and develop a model of when supervisors communicating concrete goals versus abstract visions are seen as more effective. According to CLT, being psychologically removed from (vs. near to) an event or object makes people construe the event or object in a more abstract (vs. concrete) way, which, in turn, leads people to process abstract (vs. concrete) information more fluently and thus evaluate the sender of this information more favorably. Accordingly, supervisor effectiveness may be higher in conditions where communication and psychological distance to the supervisor converge (vision/far and goals/close) rather than diverge (vision/close and goals/far). We tested this hypothesis in two experiments, using different operationalizations of psychological distance. In these studies, we found supervisor effectiveness to be higher when vision was communicated at a far versus near distance and goals were communicated at a near versus far distance.

KW - CHARISMATIC LEADERSHIP

KW - CONSTRUAL-LEVEL

KW - MOTIVATION

KW - ORIENTATION

KW - PERFORMANCE

KW - PICTURE

KW - TIME

KW - TRANSACTIONAL LEADERSHIP

KW - TRANSFORMATIONAL LEADERSHIP

KW - WORK

U2 - 10.1111/jasp.12626

DO - 10.1111/jasp.12626

M3 - Article

VL - 49

SP - 671

EP - 683

JO - Journal of Applied Social Psychology

JF - Journal of Applied Social Psychology

SN - 0021-9029

IS - 11

ER -