Date of Award

2015-8

Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

George E. Reed, Ph.D. (Chair), Fred J. Galloway, Ed.D., Zachary Gabriel Green, Ph.D., Linnea M. Axman, Dr.P.H., MSN

Keywords

abusive leadership, destructive leadership, management, nonprofit, toxic leadership

Abstract

Toxic leadership is associated with a number of negative consequences to the long-term health and welfare of people in organizations. Destructive leader styles redirect employee efforts from mission accomplishment to self-protection and survival behaviors, undermining the organization. Increased demand and decreased funding are characteristic of the nonprofit sector. Therefore, successful nonprofit organizations tend to rely on creativity and innovation to ensure their communities are appropriately and sufficiently sustained. Supportive, not toxic, leadership helps foster organizational environments that encourage prudent risk-taking and innovation.

This concurrent mixed methods study explored the relationship between toxic leadership and organizational citizenship and turnover behaviors among 471 survey respondents from a sample of San Diego nonprofit paid staff, and considered the influence commitment has on those relationships. An open ended question for those who reported experiencing toxic leadership provided additional context and depth as to why employees stayed in an organization in spite of abusive supervision. The findings of the study are of interest to leaders and managers of nonprofit organizations to develop policies and training processes as they strive to recruit, retain and develop talented employees.

Toxic supervision was found to exist in San Diego nonprofit organizations. However, its effect on organizational citizenship (OCB) and turnover behaviors was inconclusive, as was the influencing effect of commitment, in this study. However, both commitment and OCB-like ideas emerged as stated reasons that participants did not leave the organization, as did career, resilience and opportunity concepts. These identified variables suggest complex relationships that act in concert to influence staff retention indicating possible important opportunities for future research.

Document Type

Dissertation

Department

Leadership Studies

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