The Joint Effects of Leadership Style and Magnitude of the Disruption on Team Adaptation: A Longitudinal Experiment

Miriam Sanchez-Manzanares*, Ramon Rico, Mirko Antino, Sjir Uitdewilligen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Here, we report a longitudinal experiment testing the combined effects of leadership style and the magnitude of the disruption on team adaptive performance over time. We hypothesized that teams led by a directive leader would outperform teams led by an empowering leader when task conditions do not change (pre-change), while teams with an empowering leader would outperform teams with a directive leader under changing task conditions (post-change), especially when task changes are high in magnitude. To test our hypotheses, we conducted a 2 (leadership: directive/empowering) x 2 (magnitude of the disruption: low/high) experiment with repeated measures of team performance before and after the change occurred. Sixty-seven three-member teams participated in a computer-based firefighting simulation. Evidence from discontinuous growth modeling partially supported our hypotheses by showing that before the task change, directively led teams outperformed teams led by an empowering leader. After the task change, however, directively led teams still outperformed teams with empowering leaders. The magnitude of the disruption had a significant main effect on team adaptive performance but did not significantly moderate the effect of leadership style. Implications for the team adaptation literature and the management of teams under complex, changing conditions are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)836-864
Number of pages29
JournalGroup & Organization Management
Issue number6
Early online date11 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • directive and empowering leadership
  • magnitude of the disruption
  • adaptive performance
  • teams
  • longitudinal experiment


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