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Durham University

Research & business

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Publication details for Professor Olga Epitropaki

Martin, R., Hughes, D. J., Epitropaki, O. & Thomas, G. (2020). In pursuit of causality in leadership training research: A review and pragmatic recommendations. The Leadership Quarterly 101375.

Author(s) from Durham


Although research shows a reliable association between leadership training and positive organizational outcomes, a range of research design issues mean we do not know to what degree the former causes the later. Accordingly, the paper has two main aims. First, to describe the conditions necessary to determine causality in leadership training research and the ability of different research designs to achieve this. Six important, but often ignored, issues associated with determining causality are described (control conditions, sample representation, condition randomization, condition independence, temporal design, and author involvement). Second, to review the extent to which the leadership training literature is able to demonstrate causality. The review shows that the majority of studies do not meet many of the criteria, even the most basic criteria, required to establish causality. Finally, we provide guidelines for designing future research to improve causal identification and is capable of generating meaningful theory and policy recommendations.