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Supervisors and teachers' influence on expectations on empowering leadership among students in vocational education and training

Journal article
Authors Martin Grill
Anders Pousette
Kent Nielsen
Regine Grytnes
Marianne Törner
Published in Empirical Research in Vocational Education and Training
Volume 9
Issue 1
ISSN 1877-6337
Publication year 2017
Published at Institute of Medicine, Department of Public Health and Community Medicine
Language en
Keywords Construction industry, Empowering leadership, Implicit leadership theory, Occupational safety, Safety leadership, Socialization, VET
Subject categories Applied Psychology, Environmental Health and Occupational Health


Background: Empowering leadership practise among leaders in the construction industry contributes to improve occupational safety, by stimulating participative safety behaviour among construction workers. Socialization into working life in the construction industry begins during vocational education and training (VET). It is therefore important to understand how VET influence young people's expectations on empowering leadership, i.e. their implicit leadership theories (ILT). The aim of the present study was to assess if empowering ILT of students change during VET, and if students' empowering ILT are influenced by the empowering leadership practice of teachers and workplace supervisors that the students interact with during VET. Methods: Questionnaire data were gathered from students (n = 1907) at seven construction VET-schools in Sweden and Denmark at two occasions, 1 year apart. Accelerated longitudinal design was employed and data were analysed using mixed method growth curve modelling. Results: The empowering ILT of the VET-students was found to increase during VET. The leadership of supervisors', but not of teachers', was found to be positively related to the empowering ILT of the VET-students. Conclusions: VET-students, in the beginning of their professional life, appear to alter their beliefs and assumptions about the characteristics of effective leaders. The ILT of VET-students may thus be regarded as dynamic and responsive, inclined to change as the students socialize into working life.

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