As a paradigm of local research, paternalistic leadership has gradually been popular in the field of Organizational Behavior. Paternalistic leadership is a leadership style that expresses absolute authority, elder's care, and moral role model in the context of humanism. As a core element in organizational context, employee performance is crucial for organizations, leaders, and employees, etc. However, the conclusion of the relationship between paternalistic leadership and employee performance is still controversial, as existing meta-analyses focus on the relationship between this relationship, but relatively ignore the important impact of cultural on the results; besides, most scholars have analyzed the authoritarian, benevolent, and moral dimensions of paternalistic leadership independently or parallelly, failing comprehensively consider the relationship between the three dimensions to conduct research on employee performance; in addition, the effectiveness of leadership style is the result of the joint action of leaders and employees, and previous studies have relatively ignored the moderating effects of gender and age characteristics on employee performance in China.
Based on this, this study used meta-analysis and meta-analytic criterion profile analysis to explore the relationship between paternalistic leadership and employee performance in the Chinese context. Through a comprehensive search and screening of the Chinese and English literature on the relationship between paternalistic leadership and performance (including task performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and counterproductive performance) conducted in the Chinese context, a total of 139 studies with 400 effect values were included (N = 44605).
Our research contained three steps. In the first step, the main effects of authoritarian leadership, benevolent leadership and moral leadership on employees are estimated, including task performance, organizational behavior, and counterproductive performance with the Hunter-Schmidt meta-analytic method. Thereafter, we identify the paternalistic leadership profile when it is best related to employee performance through multiple regression and determine which profile of paternalistic leadership has the strongest predictive power for task performance, organizational citizenship behavior, and counterproductive performance respectively with the meta-criterion profile. Thirdly, we also tested whether employee's characteristics of gender and age played a moderating role in those relationships.
The results of the meta-analysis found that (1) Benevolent leadership and Moral leadership have strong positive correlations with both task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and strong negative correlations with counterproductive behavior. In contrast, Authoritarian leadership has a significant negative correlation with task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and a significant positive correlation with counterproductive behavior. (2) Low authoritative leadership profile (high level of benevolent and moral leadership) has the strongest predictive power for task performance and organizational citizenship behavior, and high authoritative leadership profile (low level of benevolent and moral leadership) has the strongest predictive power for counterproductive behavior. (3) ?Moderator analyses revealed that average age produces a meaningful impact on the relationships between authoritarian leadership and organizational citizenship behavior and counterproductive performance, the strength of the relationship between moral leadership and task performance. Moreover,the moderating effect of gender on the relationship between paternalistic leadership and performance is not significant.
The findings firstly revealed the "truth" about the relationship between paternalistic leadership and employee performance in the Chinese context, which guide the direction of subsequent leadership research; Secondly, the relationship between the profile of the three-dimensions combination of paternalistic leadership and employee performance is explored from the perspective of person-centered, and the conclusion is more accurate and effective; Finally, the boundary conditions between paternalistic leadership and employee performance are clarified from the perspective of employee demographic characteristics. Further, this research has implications for management practice. On the one hand, leaders should adjust the combination of paternalistic leadership styles in time according to the environment to promote the optimal performance of subordinates; On the other hand, leaders should treat employees of different genders equally and adjust their leadership styles according to the needs of employees of different ages.