When Women Lead: Integrative Leadership in State Legislatures

By Cindy Simon Rosenthal | Go to book overview
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Gender, Leadership, and Legislatures: Theoretical Roots

The power of leadership is the power of integrating which creates community.

-- Mary Parker Follett

Aggregative or distributive theories have dominated the literature on legislative politics beginning with Lasswell's dictum of "who gets what" and its corollary "at whose expense." 1 This perspective assumes that legislators compete with each other to secure the advantages (principally electoral) of scarce policy goods. 2 In their simplest form, legislative decisions are "divide-the- dollar" competitions in which particular interests overshadow the broader common good and decision outcomes are reduced to three options: win, lose, or compromise to protect your interests.

The distributive paradigm applies not only to individual-level behavior but also to the logic of institutions. 3 March and Olsen call this dominant ideology "the logic of consequentiality" or rational calculation of preferences and consequences. 4 The kind of institution that results from this view is aggregative," based on the processes of interests, power, and exchange. 5

Modern legislatures are assumed to be aggregative, and the archetypal style of legislative leadership is what Burns describes as transactional -- competitive bargaining and win-lose-or-compromise strategies. Indeed, he calls legislatures and legislative committees "the classic seat of transactional leadership." 6 The transactional leader facilitates the exchange of valued goods -- "acts of reciprocal betterment" 7 -- that are achieved by calculating interests, log rolling, competing, and maneuvering for strategic advantage. Necessary conditions of an aggregative system are conflict and competition. 8

This picture of aggregative leadership emerges from legislative research based mostly on men, and thus this study of committee chairs poses the question: Has masculine behavior been conflated as institutional norms of con


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When Women Lead: Integrative Leadership in State Legislatures


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