What is The Ohio State Leadership Studies? Definition and Findings

What is The Ohio State Leadership Studies?

The Ohio State Leadership Studies also called The Ohio State Model of Leader Behavior is a behavioral leadership theory that explains how leaders’ behavior affects the group’s performance and achievement of desired goals.

This leadership theory ignores the concepts of trait leadership theory that says great leaders are born not made. But, it states leaders’ effectiveness depends upon their behavior, and through learning and practicing anyone can be a great leader.

In 1945 AD, a group of researchers at Ohio State University conducted a series of studies to find out the behaviors of leaders that make them effective. The goal was to identify the independent dimensions of leaders’ behavior and to determine the effect of these dimensions on work performance and satisfaction.

They identified two types of leadership behaviors i.e. initiating structure and consideration. They found these two critical characteristics of leadership either of which could be high or low, or independent of each other.

Leadership Behaviors

As mentioned above the two leadership behaviors, let’s understand what they mean.

Initiating Structure

Initiating structure defines a strong organizational structure i.e. a hierarchy of leader-subordinate. It would not be wrong to call initiating structure leaders, task-oriented leaders.

Leaders with high initiating structures tend to follow the scalar chain strictly. They focus more on job output instead of maintaining good human relations in the group.

They maintain a formal line of communication, make all necessary decisions themselves, clearly define the tasks & responsibilities, and expect subordinates to follow their instructions.


Leaders with consideration behavior show concern for subordinates and attempt to maintain a friendly and supportive working environment. These leaders are more democratic and focus on building a good work culture in the team and then expect the work from their subordinates.

It is found that leaders who give more emphasis on both initiating structure and consideration behavior are the most effective leaders than others. However, practically, being high on both consideration and initiating structure is impossible.

Leadership Styles

The Ohio State leadership studies come to the conclusion that it is not the leadership traits that make great leaders rather it is the behavior of leaders. As such, this leadership approach opens up the way that anyone learning to become a leader can be a leader.

Related: 12 Styles of Leadership

The two behavior consideration and initiating structure of this theory results in four leadership styles as shown in the image below:

Ohio State Leadership Studies

From, the study the following facts are established.

  • Leaders with low consideration and low structure become pessimistic and passive.
  • Leaders with high consideration and low structure work for group harmony and benefits. They become aware of fulfilling the social needs of employees but they are less concerned about performance.
  • Leaders with low consideration and high structure focus on productivity and performance. They pay low interest for employee welfare.
  • Leaders with high consideration and high structure focus on productivity, performance, group harmony, and welfare. Theoretically, this is the best leadership style according to the Ohio State Model of Leader Behavior but it is not possible practically to be high at initiating structure as well as high at consideration.

Read Next: Fiedler’s Contingency Theory of Leadership

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