Passing It Forward: Intervening and Moderating Mechanisms in the Supportive Leadership Cascading Process

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Using survey data collected from enlisted soldiers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) nested in platoons in the U.S. Army, my dissertation examines intervening and moderating mechanisms in the cascading process of supportive leadership. Typically cascading studies focus on influence processes occurring in dyadic settings, neglect to consider boundary conditions, and utilize a group mean approach to analyzing the phenomenon. In my study, however, I find support for a conditional indirect effect of cascading supportive leadership at the group level, such that supportive leadership by groups of upper-level leaders (officers) promotes social cohesion for groups of lower-level leaders (NCOs) under high levels of combat exposure. In turn, lower-level social cohesion is positively linked with supportive leadership by groups of leaders at lower organizational levels. In addition, analyses using within-unit standard deviations of the substantive measures (i.e., strength) indicate that combat exposure strength moderates the relationship between upper-level supportive leadership strength and lower-level social cohesion strength, such that the positive relationship is stronger when combat exposure strength is higher (i.e., when within-unit standard deviation in combat exposure is lower).