Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

Leadership Styles: Inertia and Changes in the Czech Republic

Academic journal article Journal of East European Management Studies

Leadership Styles: Inertia and Changes in the Czech Republic

Article excerpt

Social Darwinism suggests that in crisis situations leaders have to be replaced by better fitting leaders. An opposing school argues that leaders, based on their personality, are successful in all situations and therefore can master all situations including a crisis. A third view concludes that leaders can learn to overcome the path dependency of organizational structures. In this paper, the development and essentials of these approaches of leadership research are discussed and demonstrated in the case study of the Czech Republic after the Velvet Revolution. The test is based on the Vroom/Yetton model of leadership effectiveness. The results confirm that inertia and change can be explained based on the general contingency approach of leadership.

Gemäß der Theorie des Sozialdarwinismus werden in einer Krise Führungskräfte durch geeignetere ausgetauscht. Dagegen wird argumentiert, dass Führungskräfte auf Grund ihrer Persönlichkeit jegliche Situationen erfolgreich bewältigen können. Eine dritte Sichtweise schreibt Führungskräften Lernfähigkeit zu, mit der sie die Pfadabhängigkeit organisationaler Strukturen überwinden können. In diesem Aufsatz werden diese drei Sichtweisen der Führungsforschung diskutiert und am Fall der Tschechischen Republik nach der samtenen Revolution empirisch "getestet". Dieser "Test" basiert auf dem Vroom/Yetton Modell der Führungsforschung. Die Ergebnisse zeigen die Möglichkeit der Erklärung organisationaler Schwerkraft und Wandels mit kontingenztheoretischen Grundlagen der Führung.

Keywords: leadership behaviour; participation; Czech Republic; Vroom/Yetton model; cultural inertia; institutional change

(ProQuest: ... denotes formulae omitted.)

1. Major steps in the development of leadership theories

According to Zaccaro (2007), the start of leadership research is to be found in trait theory which has led to two popular notions: "The first point defines leadership as a unique property of extraordinary individuals whose decisions are capable of sometimes radically changing the streams of history. [...] The second point grounds the unique attributes of such individuals in their inherited or genetic makeup. [...] The practical implication of this view, of course, is that leadership quality is immutable and, therefore, not amenable to developmental interventions" (Zaccaro 2007: 6).

In contrast to this heroic approach, Pfeffer, who conducted longitudinal studies of mayors, athletic coaches, and corporate leaders (Salancik/Pfeffer 1977), came to the conclusion that leadership is largely an illusion generated by peoples' need for heroes. "If one cannot observe differences when leaders change, then what does it matter who occupies the position or how they behave" (Pfeffer 1977: 59).

Contrary to both extreme positions - leaders move the world vs. leaders are irrelevant - the development of trait theories made important steps in analysing essentials of intrapersonal dispositions for effective leadership as a social phenomenon. Already in 1931, Moss came to the conclusion that cognitive abilities combined with social competence can create leadership effectiveness (Moss 1931). This theme can be seen as the core topic in all models in the development of leadership theories.

In the tradition of trait theories but putting an accent on intrapersonal dispositions, Sternberg (2007) for example, differentiates in his WICS -model (wisdom, intelligence, creativity) between ten creative attitudes, academic and practical intelligence, and wisdom as elements of leadership. Research on motivational prerequisites of leadership effectiveness also has a long tradition. Here the leading schools are based on the work of McClelland (1985), who concentrates on the achievement, power, affiliation and avoidance motives (McClelland et al. 1953; Atikinson/Feather 1966; Heckhausen 1980; McClelland/Winter 1969). In this tradition, McClelland/Boyatzis (1982) applied a "leadership motivation pattern" (moderate-to-high in power, lower in affiliation, and high in self-control or activity inhibition) to a case study with 237 managers with the result that this pattern "[. …

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