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Assessing Situational Leadership within a Crisis Context in Hotel Operational Settings




Owens, Emmanuella

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Nutrition, Dietetics and Hospitality Management

Restriction Status


Restriction Type

Auburn University Users

Date Available



The only thing constant is change. With the onset and incremental increase in environmental and economic instability over the last few decades, businesses including hotels have had to rapidly evolve to brace against the impact of the varying crisis dynamics in order to successfully achieve their business objectives. Guided by the situational leadership theory (SLT) and role congruity theory (RCT), this study aimed to investigate how situational leadership (SL) and managerial gender affect and inform perceived leadership emergence and effectiveness within a crisis context. Situational leadership is the ability to pivot during crisis leading followers to adapt to company changes that lead to sustainability. Leadership emergence is the selection of a competent leader and leadership effectiveness is the positive assessment of how a leader is able to perform. This work sought to clarify the interrelation between the select processes in the crisis management phenomenon, by additionally exploring the influencing role of manager gender and crisis predictability on the relationship between situational leadership and leadership emergence and effectiveness. Utilizing a 2x2x2 between subjects experimental design and supplemental questions about leadership outcomes, the quantitative study identified how situational leadership behaviors are perceived in context specific crisis situations. The study also explores the moderating role of crisis predictability and gender on leadership outcomes, adding to the existing body of crisis management and hospitality literature. Results indicate that both situational leadership and leadership emergence were significant predictors of leadership effectiveness (LEFF). Leadership emergence mediated situational leadership and leadership effectiveness. Additionally, the study results indicated a positive and significant 3-way interaction between situational leadership, crisis predictability and manager gender. Female communal managers were found to have a higher association with unforeseen events leading to positive leadership effectiveness. The effect of SL on LEFF was stronger for female managers in unforeseen crisis events than male managers in foreseen crisis events. The significant interaction proves that conceptually all three are influential on leadership effectiveness and play a crucial role in the relationship. This study contributes to the current literature and industry application by expanding the research on leadership and crisis management in hospitality as well as exploring the relationship between employee gender management in crisis and leadership outcomes in hospitality which has not been executed previously. We proposed that crisis predictability and manager gender will in tandem serve to facilitate or reduce influencing evaluations of a situational leader and subsequent leadership outcomes. We concluded with suggestions for management hiring requirements and training by offering insights into preferred management in a crisis context. The findings of this study will assist with training initiatives that can enhance the quality of leadership and followership within a crisis context. The directions for future crisis management process research were also provided.