Advancing theory development: exploring the leadership-climate relationship as a mechanism of the implementation of cultural competence

Implement Sci. 2017 Nov 14;12(1):133. doi: 10.1186/s13012-017-0666-9.


Background: Leadership style and specific organizational climates have emerged as critical mechanisms to implement targeted practices in organizations. Drawing from relevant theories, we propose that climate for implementation of cultural competence reflects how transformational leadership may enhance the organizational implementation of culturally responsive practices in health care organizations.

Methods: Using multilevel data from 427 employees embedded in 112 addiction treatment programs collected in 2013, confirmatory factor analysis showed adequate fit statistics for our measure of climate for implementation of cultural competence (Cronbach's alpha = .88) and three outcomes: knowledge (Cronbach's alpha = .88), services (Cronbach's alpha = .86), and personnel (Cronbach's alpha = .86) practices.

Results: Results from multilevel path analyses indicate a positive relationship between employee perceptions of transformational leadership and climate for implementation of cultural competence (standardized indirect effect = .057, bootstrap p < .001). We also found a positive indirect effect between transformational leadership and each of the culturally competent practices: knowledge (standardized indirect effect = .006, bootstrap p = .004), services (standardized indirect effect = .019, bootstrap p < .001), and personnel (standardized indirect effect = .014, bootstrap p = .005).

Conclusions: Findings contribute to implementation science. They build on leadership theory and offer evidence of the mediating role of climate in the implementation of cultural competence in addiction health service organizations.

Keywords: Cultural competence; Implementation; Organizational climate; Transformational leadership.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Behavior, Addictive / rehabilitation
  • Cultural Competency / organization & administration*
  • Delivery of Health Care / organization & administration*
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Hispanic or Latino
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Young Adult