A 25-year perspective on levels of analysis in leadership research

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A 25-year perspective on levels of analysis in leadership research
The Leadership Quarterly

The purpose of this article is to present a comprehensive 25-year review of the incorporation of levels of analysis into conceptual and empirical leadership research published within Leadership Quarterly throughout its history. We assessed the population of Leadership Quarterly's research (790 research articles) on four key levels of analysis-based issues: (1) explicit statement of the focal level(s) of analysis; (2) appropriate measurement given level of constructs; (3) use of a multi-level data analysis technique; and (4) alignment of theory and data. Prior reviews regarding levels of analysis incorporation into leadership research have been limited to major research domains. Results revealed that while both conceptual and empirical articles only explicitly state the focal level of analysis in approximately one-third of the articles appropriate levels-based measurement and alignment between theory and data are relatively strong areas of achievement for the articles within Leadership Quarterly. Multi-level data analysis techniques are used in less than one-fifth of all articles. Although there is room for improvement there is evidence that Leadership Quarterly is a premier outlet for levels-based leadership research. Given the increasing complexity of organizational science with regard to groups teams and collectives Leadership Quarterly has an opportunity to model for organizational research on how to build and test complicated multi-level theories and models.

The Leadership Quarterly 25 (2014) 6 – 35

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