Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

A Theoretical Framework for Several Antecedents of Shared Leadership in Corporate Board Contexts

Academic journal article Iranian Journal of Management Studies

A Theoretical Framework for Several Antecedents of Shared Leadership in Corporate Board Contexts

Article excerpt

Introduction

A critical attribute of an effective corporate board is its ability to act as a team (Conger & Lawler, 2009; Finkelstein & Mooney, 2003; Forbes & Milliken, 1999), and the first place to start building teamwork in the board is arguably experiencing shared leadership (Conger & Lawler, 2009). Shared team leadership is a process in which the behavioral roles of leadership may be played by multiple individuals (Friedrich, Vessey, Schuelke, Ruark, & Mumford, 2009; Gronn, 2002). In boards, due to the diversity of members (Conger & Pearce, 2003), shared responsibility of boards (Clarke, 2007), and board members' high experience and status (Lorsch, 2009), board leadership is often expected to be practiced collectively (Vandewaerde, Voordeckers, Lambrechts, & Bammens, 2011). In fact, high status board members may not accept the vertical leadership, leadership typically comes from a person who has been appointed to a hierarchical position, by a single board member, and board members who are expert in different fields may become leaders in discussions held in those fields. It should be emphasized that vertical leadership and shared leadership can exist simultaneously (Gronn, 2009). What matters is the level of shared leadership experienced in a team.

Shared leadership can be experienced in every team leadership function, including direction setting, managing team operations, and developing team's leadership capacity (Zaccaro, Heinen, & Shuffler, 2009). In the context of board, shared leadership can be practiced in different ways, for example, when board members collectively perform some leadership tasks such as motivating each other to participate in board activities, participating in board's goal setting process, reviewing the performance of individual board members, the CEO, and the board collectively, and jointly making corporate decisions (Conger & Lawler, 2009). Shared leadership may enable a board to accept some board members who are better positioned on the subject matter to lead the team, in order to effectively fulfill its diverse control and service tasks (Vandewaerde et al., 2011). Shared leadership can enhance board task effectiveness, with concerted effort to access required expertise, share and integrate knowledge, collaborate, and make joint decisions in the network (Vandewaerde et al., 2011). It should be noticed that in other contexts, such as change management teams (Pearce & Sims, 2002), work teams (Barry, 1991), and consulting teams (Carson, Tesluk, & Marrone, 2007), to top management teams (Ensley, Hmieleski, & Pearce, 2006), shared leadership has been shown to significantly impact team performance.

It is stated that shared leadership may result in higher board effectiveness through members' contribution and better board meeting management (Vandewaerde et al., 2011). However, shared leadership is not the best configuration of leadership across all situations and contexts, as vertical leadership is not necessarily the best configuration as well.

Conger and Pearce (2003) emphasized the importance of studying shared leadership of boards to clarify what enhances shared leadership of boards and how shared leadership can influence board teamwork and effectiveness. Nevertheless, as Vandewaerde and colleagues (2011) recently claimed, there is almost no research on shared leadership in the context of boards despite the mentioned importance of shared leadership in board contexts. In fact, the body of literature on board governance not only lacks sufficient attention to board leadership, but also mostly neglects other behavioral and interactional aspects of boards (Van Ees, Gabrielsson, & Huse, 2009). Most studies in the board literature have focused on the relationship between board characteristics, such as CEO duality, outsider/insider ratio, board size, board members' stock ownership and board effectiveness (Finkelstein & Mooney, 2003; Van Ees et al. …

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