The influence of cognitive complexity on Hong Kong school leader's ability to influence followers in times of complexity

Year: 2012

Author: Pisapia, John, Pang, Nicholas Sun-Keung

Type of paper: Abstract refereed


The main question of our study is, are more cognitively complex Hong Kong school leaders (principals, vice-principals, and senior masters) more behaviorally complex than less cognitively complex leaders?  To get answers to our question we assessed school leaders' use of strategic thinking skills (systems thinking, reframing, and reflection) and leader influence actions (transforming, managing, bonding, bridging, and bartering) proposed by Pisapia (2009) and the connections among these variables. 

The study used a quantitative non-experimental design. The strategic thinking skills (systems thinking, reflection, and reframing were selected as the predictor variables. The strategic leader influence actions - transforming, managing, bonding, bartering, and bridging - were selected as the criterion variables.  School type, leader position held, gender, education level and age served as moderating variables.  From the theoretical literature four propositions were extracted for examination: (1) School leaders' use of strategic thinking skills is contextually moderated; (2)   School leaders' use of leader influence actions is contextually moderated; (3) School leader use of strategic thinking skills is linked to their use of influence actions; and (4) school leaders are more behaviorally complex than LCC school leaders.

Six hundred thirty five (635) school leaders (principals, vice-principals, special masters) completed the strategic thinking questionnaire (STQ-Self) and the leader influence actions questionnaire (SLQ-Self). This sample size, representing about one third of the school leaders in Hong Kong, is large enough to warrant reliability and validity in generalizing the results to the rest of the population.