Transformational and transactional leadership: a meta-analytic test of their relative validity

J Appl Psychol. 2004 Oct;89(5):755-68. doi: 10.1037/0021-9010.89.5.755.


This study provided a comprehensive examination of the full range of transformational, transactional, and laissez-faire leadership. Results (based on 626 correlations from 87 sources) revealed an overall validity of .44 for transformational leadership, and this validity generalized over longitudinal and multisource designs. Contingent reward (.39) and laissez-faire (-.37) leadership had the next highest overall relations; management by exception (active and passive) was inconsistently related to the criteria. Surprisingly, there were several criteria for which contingent reward leadership had stronger relations than did transformational leadership. Furthermore, transformational leadership was strongly correlated with contingent reward (.80) and laissez-faire (-.65) leadership. Transformational and contingent reward leadership generally predicted criteria controlling for the other leadership dimensions, although transformational leadership failed to predict leader job performance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Personnel Management*
  • Psychological Theory*
  • Psychology, Industrial*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Reward
  • Social Identification