Loughborough University
Leicestershire, UK
LE11 3TU
+44 (0)1509 222222
Loughborough University

Centre for Innovative and Collaborative Construction Engineering


Dr John Kissi


Improving innovation and project performance in construction professional services firms: The leadership role of middle managers

Project Title

Impact of Leadership Styles on Project Performance

Sponsoring Company



Professor Andrew Dainty
Dr M Tuuli

Dr Sam Kuke
Mr Russell McDonald

Director of Research:
Professor Stephen Ison

Research Period

2008 - 2012


Impact of Leadership Styles on Project Performance

This research is intended to study how leadership behaviour of project managers interacts with cultural orientation of project team members to impact on project outcomes within Mouchel. Mouchel is an engineering and business services organisation made up of about eleven thousand staff (11,000) working in varying industries from offices across the length and breath of the United Kingdom (UK) and beyond.  The company places a lot of emphasis on the development of its leaders, and rightly so given the impact that leadership can have on organisations.

This impact is of interest not only to the business but also to its share holders.  Leadership is significant for the effectiveness of businesses, achievement of organisational development objectives, project quality and stakeholder and team satisfaction since leadership efficiently integrates and coordinates division of labour across organisations by exerting influence on employee attitudes and behaviours Strang (2005). The performance of employees to a large extent is determined by their attitudes and behaviours. This is no different in a project environment. I have been interested in understanding how the leadership behaviours exhibited by project managers (PMs) impact on the attitudes of their staff and for that matter their performance. This question will particularly be of interest to the project management community given the number of projects that have gone on record as failing as a result of people related issues.

Like most companies in the UK the work force of Mouchel is made up of people from very diverse cultures and backgrounds. Leaders of this organisation have to deal with this diversity and bring the best out of each of them. Research has concluded that the fit between leadership behaviour and effectiveness is dependent on the effectiveness of the behaviour to the cultural context. Black and Porter (1991) and Liu, Fellows and Fang (2003). For that reason it is expected that the behaviour necessary to yield success will vary from one culture to another, Jung and Avolio (1999). This makes it imperative that project managers are more aware of their own leadership styles, how their team members respond and are able to adapt their style to enable them get the best out their teams.

Since Burn’s (1978) seminary work on transformational and transactional leadership, studies have confirmed that transformational leadership style is not a substitute for transactional leadership but rather complements it. According to Bass (1999), transformational leadership is linked to change of culture and motivation of people to achieve organisational goals and has been found to be more closely associated with employee satisfaction and organisational productivity. Transactional leadership (which includes management-by-exception) however is linked to positional power sources such as reward and authority. This study will contribute to a better understanding of how transformational, transactional and other leadership behaviour portrayed by PMs in a culturally diverse and a professional services environment impacts performance.  

It is intended that this study will employ a combination of both qualitative and quantitative methods of research. The study will initially explore questions relating to the cultural orientation of followers and how that affect their response to the leadership approaches or behaviour of PMs. This will culminate into hypotheses which will be based not only on literature but also on the initial exploratory study. The data collected as part of the first phase of this study coupled with the literature review will be used to develop a questionnaire which will be administered primarily to project managers to test the hypotheses.

Kissi, J., Dainty, A.R.J., and Liu, A., (2012). “Examining middle managers’ influence on innovation in construction professional services firms: a tale of three innovations”. Construction Innovation: Information, Process, Management . 12(1) 11-28.

Kissi, J., Dainty, A.R.J., and Tuuli, M.M, (In Print). Examining the role of transformational leadership of portfolio managers in project performance. International Journal of Project Management.


Kissi, J., Payne, R., Luke, S., Dainty, A.R.J., and Liu, A. 2010b. Identifying the factors that influence innovation championing behaviour in construction support services organisations: A review of the role of middle management. In Barrett, P. (Ed) Procs CIB World Congress 2010 10-13 May 2010, The Lowry, Salford Quays, United Kingdom, Paper ID 542.

Kissi, J., Dainty, A.R.J., and Tuuli, M.M., (2011), “Exploratory analysis of the relationship between transformational leadership of middle managers and project performance”. In Haupt T.C (Ed) Procs The 6th Built Environment Conference 31 July – 2 August 2011, Johannesburg, South Africa.



Contact us

+44 (0)1509 222623

The Centre Administrator
Loughborough University
LE11 3TU

Join us on Linkedin