Journal Article critique Description


JournalArticle critique Description

APath Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness

RobertJ. House

AdministrativeScience Quarterly

Vol.16, No. 3 (Sep., 1971), pp. 321-339

Publishedby: SagePublications, Inc.on behalf of the JohnsonGraduate School of Management, Cornell University



PageCount: 19

Thebackground and purpose of the article


Thearticle is written about the effects of leadership on thesubordinate’s performance as we’ll as the motivation. The articlerevolves around the comparison of the leadership style that a leaderdecides to take and the results regarding the subordinates’satisfaction. The article brings to light the possibility of theexistence of various behaviors by different leaders. The assumptionis made that the behavior of the leader will determine the motivationof the subordinates as well as their performance (Everett, 2016). Thepath-goal theory is used to demonstrate this kind of behavior. Thepath-goal theory is brought in by House to define the path that aleader would decide to let the subordinates follow. This theory isaddressed by the writer of the article to explain that the decisionmade by the leader will determine the direction of the performance.Path-goal theory of motivation is used by the writer to address thevarious actions that a leader can decide to take on the subordinates(House,2016). Such include the decision to enhance close supervision, toensure authoritarianism, enhance hierarchical influence or eveninitiate a structure.

Purposeof the Article

Househad in mind the objectives that every leader has in the decision thateach one of them makes. The article is meant to explain the effect ofthe decision that that a leader decides to takes upon hissubordinates to the level of their satisfaction, motivation andperformance. The article tries to compare the various reactions ofthe subordinates to the leadership decisions made by their leaders(Northouse, 2016). The article finds that the leadership style thatthe leaders’ takes will automatically have repercussions on theemployees, either positively or negatively. It hence concludes thatthe behavior of the leader is directly proportional to the behaviorof the subordinates. The greatest measure of the employees`satisfaction applied in the article is the level of theirperformance.

Explanationand Findings of the author

Theauthor goes on to discuss the path-goal theory in details. Housesuggests that in the path-goal theory, the success of the leadershipin place will depend on whether the leader will communicate his goalsconveniently and in an efficient manner. The author seems to rely onthe hypothesis developed earlier in the study. The hypothesisdeveloped by the author is that customers’ satisfaction, motivationand performance are directly proportional to the behavior of theleader (Braveman, 2016). House differentiates the path-goal theoryfrom the situational theory. He does this by explaining that theleader can impact the satisfaction, motivation and performance of theorganization. House states that the leader has the ability toinfluence the performance by carrying out the various nobleresponsibilities of a leader.

Thevarious ways that the leader can influence the performance includeoffering rewards for achieving performance. According to House, thiscould motivate the subordinates to work extra harder aiming therewards. He also states that the leader can also clarify the goalstowards a certain course of action. The aspect of making the goalclear could play a major role in getting the employees to doing theexpected (Everett, 2016). He suggests that one would do best in thework he is aware of the direction. The author also provides that theleader could determine the performance by deciding either to retainor remove obstacles on the path of performance.

Theauthor also finds out that the path-goal theory has various forms ofsituational leadership styles. House suggests that the situation athand defines the leadership style taken into account. In directivestyle, the leader is expected to offer guidelines for performance. insupportive leadership, the author notes that the leader tends to befriendly to the subordinates and shows lots of concern. The leaderconducts consultations with the employees and considers theirsuggestions in the decisions he takes(House,2016). An achievement oriented leader is one who sets high goals forthe subordinates and expects them to perform as such.

Findingsof the author

Afterthe study carried out, the author tends to confirm his previously sethypothesis, that, the motivation, satisfaction and the performance ofthe subordinates are directly related to the behavior of the leader.

House,however, concludes that various situational factors go hand in handwith the path-goal theory. The factors are divided into two:

a)The locus control: the author elaborates that the best leadershipstyle for internal locus subordinates is the participative style,while directive style is best for the externals.

b)The subordinates with a high level of self-esteem dislikedirective leadership.

Theauthor concludes that the environment also determines the type ofleadership style to take. House quotes the example of a highlystructured work environment. He suggests that adopting directiveleadership in this sort of an environment would reduce thesubordinate’s satisfaction.

Healso suggests that taking the supportive type of leadership would notbe necessary for a workplace where teamwork is a tradition.

Critiqueof the Article


Theauthor seems to have a good basis of evidence while settling on thehypothesis considered. I agree on general view that the satisfaction,motivation and performance of the subordinates are directlyproportional to the behavior of the leader. In many cases, the leaderis seen to be the determiner of the success direction of theorganization.

Thearticle is rich enough in the information that it has provided. Thearticle contains various aspects of the path-goal theory. Mostimportantly, the article considers that the leadership style dependseveral other factors (Northouse, 2016). Such factors include thepersonalities of the employees as well as the environment of work.The article hence contains enough information to enhance the drawingof an accurate conclusion.

Thearticle is simple in its structure. This is seen in that it appliessimple examples that to elaborate the path-goal concept. Thehypothesis used is simple and put in a manner that it is very easy tounderstand and confirm it.


To some extent, the information provided is not sufficient. This isseen in the fact that enough comparison is not made for the path-goaltheory and other theories. The article does not explain why thepath-goal theory fits best in the leadership behavior determinationand not other theories.

Theconclusion that the motivation, performance and the satisfaction aredirectly correlated to the leader`s behavior seems to be vague andonly true to some extent. There are so many other factors thatdetermine the satisfaction of subordinates that are not included inthe article. Further research ought to be done to fill this gap.


Braveman,B. (2016). Leading&amp managing occupational therapy services: an evidence-basedapproach.FA Davis.

Everett,L. Q. (2016). Academic-Practice Partnerships The InterdependenceBetween Leadership and Followership. Nursingscience quarterly,29(2),168-172.

J.House, R. (2016). APath Goal Theory of Leader Effectiveness on 1 November 2016, from

Northouse,P. G. (2016). Leadership:Theory and practice.Sage publications.