Original Research

Measurement of transformational leadership in South Africa: Assessed from an etic perspective

Sonja Grobler, Anton Grobler
SA Journal of Industrial Psychology | Vol 49 | a2085 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajip.v49i0.2085 | © 2023 Sonja Grobler, Anton Grobler | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 07 February 2023 | Published: 05 December 2023

About the author(s)

Sonja Grobler, Department of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, College of Economic and Management Sciences, University of South Africa, Pretoria, South Africa
Anton Grobler, Department of Responsible Leadership in Practise, Graduate School of Business Leadership, University of South Africa, Midrand, South Africa


Orientation: It is scientifically questionable whether a predominantly Western construct and instrument could be used in the culturally diverse South African context. The sound measurement of transformational leadership in a multicultural context with the Transformational Leadership Questionnaire (TLQ), developed by Podsakoff et al. (1990), is studied from an etic perspective.

Research purpose: Our study aimed to investigate the TLQ in terms of its construct validity. The instrument was developed outside the South African and the broader African and context; our study thus adopted an etic approach.

Motivation for the study: The psychometric properties of the TLQs are examined through a contextual lens (the South African context), building on the previously conducted work of Podsakoff et al. (1990) and Podsakoff et al. (2012).

Research approach/design and method: This research employed a typical empirical paradigm using a cross-sectional design and quantitative analysis. The sample comprised 3805 respondents. A multi-factorial model was explored and confirmed using exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The results support the original conceptualisation of the overall construct, but with an adjusted factorisation.

Main findings: Two factors of transformational leadership were confirmed, namely leadership focused on organisational, group and individual transformation and leadership focused on creativity and innovation. Good psychometric properties, in terms of good fit and acceptable levels of convergent and discriminant validity were reported for a two-factor model.

Practical/managerial implications: The adapted TLQ was found to be valid on structural (factorial) as well as external levels, and it was found to be reliable. The results suggest that transformational leadership could be used with confidence within the South African context.

Contribution/value-add: Our study established a valid measure of transformational leadership from an etic approach. The necessity for our study originated from the diverse nature of the South African workforce. Participants from both the private and public sectors were included in our study.


transformational leadership; leadership; leadership measurement; etic approach; construct validity

JEL Codes

M10: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions


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