Date of Conferral

2015

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

David Banner

Abstract

Transformational leadership (TL) has been found popular in many industries in the United States and abroad for the perceived transformational leaders' effectiveness in improving occupational safety. There is a lack of empirical evidence to confirm these claims for safe occupational driving. This phenomenological study attempted to fill this knowledge gap in the electric utility industry where employees must drive in all weather conditions to restore power to customers. The conceptual framework for the study was based on leadership and motivation theories of Burns and Maslow. The research questions explored the influence of (a) TL on safe driving performance improvement in organizations and (b) emotional intelligence (EI) on leaders' efficiency to improve safe driving performance in organizations. These questions were addressed using a 14-item in-depth, open-ended interview questionnaire by a convenience sample of 18 management and 12 union-represented personnel drawn from 5 U.S. electric utility companies using the snowball method. Data were analyzed using NVivo 10 software and were interpreted using the methodological framework of Leedy and Ormrod, and Maxwell. The findings suggested that (a) TL influenced safe driving performance through these leaders' idealized influence, inspirational motivation, and intellectual stimulation; and (b) EI ineffectively and unreliably influenced safe driving improvement, but it improved organizational trust through the leaders' empathy and drivers' empowerment. Individualized consideration, while acknowledged as desirable, was least important and was widely lacking. The implications for positive social change include promoting TL style in other industries, raising employees' commitment and contribution to safe driving performance improvement, and improving organizational trust as well as public safety.