Gender and leadership aspiration: the impact of organizational identification

Claudia Fritz, Daan Van Knippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Although nowadays more women occupy leadership roles, they still are a minority. Because aspiration is a precursor of advancement, examining conditions fostering female leadership aspiration is important. A neglected perspective is the impact of organizational identification. Identification can be argued to foster leadership aspiration because the essence of leadership is the pursuit of collective interests, and identification motivates such pursuits. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

A cross-sectional survey design with an n=400 fulltime employed men and women, working for various organizations was selected.

The initial prediction was that identification is more important to women’s leadership aspiration to the extent that gender is associated with communal orientation, because women tend to have stronger communal orientation with associated greater affiliation needs, and organizational identification can be expected to cater to those needs. The communal orientation by organizational identification interactive influence on leadership aspiration was supported. Also, the indirect effect of gender on leadership aspiration via this interactive influence of communal orientation and organizational identification was supported.

Research limitations/implications
Due to the selected survey approach the data are correlational and as a result no reference to matters of causality can be made. Thus (field) experimental data is needed to confirm these findings.

Practical implications
Within the paper the discussion focuses on the importance of creating an environment that is more conducive to organizational identification and as such speaks to the communal orientation – being more pronounced among women – to act in favor of the organization by aspiring leadership positions.

The presented results depict an important step toward understanding how organizational identification and communal orientation interact and how they interact with women’s leadership aspiration.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1018-1037
JournalLeadership and Organization Development Journal
Issue number8
Early online date6 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 6 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

© Claudia Fritz and Daan van Knippenberg. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article ( for both commercial and non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at:


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