Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts



First Advisor

Lee, Yueh-Ting


Mainstream leadership studies are concerned mostly about western values. To fill the gap between Western and Eastern perspectives on leadership, this study examines female leadership from a Daoist perspective. Daoism is a valuable and rich philosophical system from China and has a history of more than 2,500 years. Key concepts from Daoism (e.g., harmony, Wei Wu-Wei, Yin-Yang, water-like leadership, and its high regard for females and mothers) were used as alternative and resourceful theoretical foundations for this study. This study was a between-subject 2 x 2 x 2 factorial design (leader candidate’s gender: male vs. female; leadership style: agentic vs. Daoist; and participants’ gender: male vs. female). Four vignettes were created and assigned as stimulus materials to each of the four conditions in the study (agentic male, agentic female, Daoist male, and Daoist female). Participants (N=383) were asked to read one leader candidate vignette and evaluate this candidate on seven aspects (positivity, likeableness, effectiveness, follower empowerment, follower autonomy cultivation, democracy, and leader emergence). Data were collected from MTurk and analyzed using MANOVA. The results indicated a significant main effect for leadership style and a significant two-way interaction effect for leadership style and leader gender. These findings demonstrate that Daoist leadership style was more preferable than agentic leadership style on positivity, likeableness, effectiveness, empowerment, follower autonomy cultivation, democracy, and leader emergence. Additionally, the Daoist female leader candidate was perceived more positively, likeable, empowering, and democratic, than agentic male leader candidate.




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