Evaluating authentic behaviour change in leadership development programmes

  • Enric Bernal

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business Administration


The global economic crisis that hit the western countries strongly has emphasised the need to abandon the economic-performance significance of leadership and return to a meaning-making significance. While a lot of research has been done in the field of leadership and management disciplines, little has been done on how to develop leadership. This study evaluated the degree in which leadership training in the market-place today was effective at developing authentic leadership and, therefore, at changing individual behaviour. Since none of the leadership theories address how behavioural change is actually achieved, theories of change were integrated in the current study. A conceptual model combining Authentic Leadership Development (ALD) theory and the Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB) was proposed. Furthermore, this study explored the relationship between a positive contemplation of change and the actual change observed in individuals after the leadership intervention. In order to test this conceptualisation, a longitudinal quasi-experimental study was conducted. Leaders were surveyed in this study one month before and one month after the programme. Three complementary questionnaires were distributed to participants in one of four leadership development programmes (two corporate initiatives and two business-school programmes). Analyses showed that leaders who attended a leadership intervention (as compared to a control group) developed higher levels of authentic leadership, as rated by them-selves and others in their working environment and controlling for baseline scores. The results also indicated that intentions were developed through the interventions and that the development of such intentions translated into changes in authentic behaviour. Intentions mediated the relationship between attitude and authentic leader-ship. In addition, when contemplation of change was high and attitudes towards authentic leadership were positive, the development of intentions was stronger. The implications of these findings for the theory and practice of leadership development programmes and the impact on organisational performance are discussed.
Date of Award19 Jun 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aston University
SupervisorHelen Higson (Supervisor) & Geoffrey M Thomas (Supervisor)


  • authetic leadership development (ALD)
  • theory of planned behaviour (TPB)
  • programme evaluation
  • change readiness
  • stages of change

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