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Followers’ Age-Based and Culture-Based Perceptions of Leadership and Follower Effectiveness in Information Technology Organizations

Damon Johnson, Johnson & Wales University


Population and workplace demographics in the United States are often researched (U.S. Census Bureau, 2016; Wiley, 2020) with minimal situational contexts for business leaders. While there is emphasis on age and cultural differences (Ramthun & Matkin, 2012; Ayman & Korabik,2010), extant research lacks guidance for maximizing effectiveness in diverse information technology organizations. In this study, exploration of this phenomenon is framed by Leader-Member Exchange theory(LMX), which offers that transformational leaders exhibit respect for their followers (Mathews,2006). Five research questions are considered. First, does follower age influence follower perception of leadership? Secondly, does follower age influence followers’ perception of their own effectiveness. Thirdly, does follower cultural identity influence follower perception of leadership? Fourth, does follower cultural identity followers’ perception of their own effectiveness. Lastly, narrative context is integrated by leveraging a qualitative research question—how do age and cultural cohorts describe experiences with leadership and their own follower effectiveness in information technology organizations? In this sequential explanatory mixed methods study, a survey measured two combined variables—follower (n = 74) perceptions of leaders (FPOL) and perceptions of their own effectiveness (FPOE). Subsequently, relevant documents from academic, industry, and government sources were collected and analyzed. These documents were thematically coded and mapped to the quantitative findings. This study confirms statistically significant inverse relationships between follower age and FPOL (r = –.27, p < .05) as well as follower age and FPOE (r = –.24, p < .05). Conversely, statistically significant relationships between cultural identity and both FPOL and FPOE were not observed. However, when grouping all non-white Americans as other and comparing to white Americans, a significant difference (p < .05) is noted on FPOL. The identical dynamic was found for native born vs. foreign born. Evidence exists that age and similarity preference are stronger indicators of FPOL and FPOE than cultural identity. On a nuanced level, confirmation exists that certain elements of FPOL and FPOE correlate with age and cultural identity. In diverse environments, these findings should inform diversity programming, leadership selection, and personnel training and development. Organizations may realize benefits of increased leader-member exchange and follower effectiveness.

Subject Area

Management|Organization Theory|Organizational behavior|Information Technology

Recommended Citation

Johnson, Damon, "Followers’ Age-Based and Culture-Based Perceptions of Leadership and Follower Effectiveness in Information Technology Organizations" (2021). Dissertation & Theses Collection. AAI29169389.