The imprinting perspective on the origins of leadership

Soo Min Toh, YeunJoon Kim, Y Luan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The current research offers an imprinting perspective on the origins of leadership styles by investigating the imprinting of childhood social class on directive and empowering leaderships. With multi-wave and multi-source field data from 188 leaders at a health food company in Korea, we find that leaders from low childhood social class, relative to those from high childhood social class, tend to be imprinted with a stronger motivation to control organizational resources in the workplace. The motivation in turn relates positively to directive leadership – leader behaviors that maintain tight control over organizational resources by making elaborate plans for employee activities and allocations of budget and task materials as well as closely monitoring the executions of the plans –, but negatively to empowering leadership – leader behaviors that share the control of organizational resources with employees. In addition, the availability of organizational resources moderates the mediated relationships between childhood social class, motivation to control organizational resources, and leadership, such that the leader’s motivation to control organizational resources explains the relationship between childhood social class and the leadership behaviors only when the organization provided insufficient resources. Our research suggests childhood social class may have enduring effects on leadership styles by imprinting how leaders respond to organizational resource environments."
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcademy of Management Proceedings
PublisherAcademy of Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Publication series

NameAcademy of Management Proceedings
ISSN (Print)0065-0668


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