is generally argued that leader visions motivate followers by focusing on reaching desirable end-states. However, it has also been suggested that visions may motivate followers by focusing on avoiding undesirable situations. In this paper we investigate the effects of appeals that focus on preventing an undesirable situation (i.e., prevention-appeals) as well as appeals that focus on promoting a desirable situation (i.e., promotion-appeals). We argue that the effectiveness of promotion- and prevention-appeals is contingent on follower regulatory focus. In two experiments we show that prevention-appeals lead to better performance than promotion-appeals for more prevention-focused followers, while the reverse is true for more promotion-focused followers. We find this pattern for a dispositional measure of follower regulatory focus (Study 1) as well as for a manipulation of follower regulatory focus (Study 2).

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Keywords leadership visions, regulatory focus
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Series ERIM Top-Core Articles
Journal Journal of Organizational Behavior
Stam, D.A, van Knippenberg, D.L, & Wisse, B. (2010). The role of regulatory fit in visionary leadership. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(4), 499–518. doi:10.1002/job.624