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Review of Relevant Literature
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Review of Relevant Literature

by Patricia Marlette Black BA, MEd.

from Women’s Leadership in Community-Profit Organisations,
Doctoral Thesis , Queensland University of Technology, 1999, pp.43-72.
Republished on our website with the necessary permissions

3.1 Introduction

Chapter 1 outlined the three overlapping contexts in which the research problem is situated - the contemporary context of discontinuous change, the historical/cultural context of a paradigm shift from a mechanistic to a holistic world view, the organisational context of the nonprofit sector. The paradigm shift from a mechanistic to a holistic world view is considered in Chapter 2 as the theoretical framework within which the exploration of the research problem identified in section 1.2 of this thesis becomes both relevant and urgent.

This chapter reviews the literature in the related studies that surround and support this research and in which the research problem is embedded - leadership studies, management studies and Women in Management studies. Through the process of summarising, synthesising and analysing the relevant literature, the researcher intends to show the links between the research problem and the wider body of knowledge, how the research problem fits into that body of knowledge and where the gaps are in the previous research. This process assists in the clarification of the research questions related to the stated problem, so that they can be further explored in the research.

The social scientific study of leadership has resulted in several theories of leadership. These theories are often presented as distinct and chronologically sequential; for example, the ‘Great Man’ theory of the 1920s, the trait theory from the 1930s to the 1950s, behaviour theories of leadership in the 1950s and 1960s, contingency/situational theories in the 1960s and 1970s, and the excellence and transformational theories of the 1980s and 1990s. A review of the leadership literature reveals, however, that leadership theories tend to overlap and to reappear in different guises at different times.

It was Winter’s (1981, p. xi) description of paradigm shifts as ‘transformations in the root metaphors which furnish clues to the encompassing world’ that led the researcher to include in the interview guide a question which asked each participant to identify the image which best described the leadership of her organisation. After several interviews had been completed the researcher, frustrated with the inadequacies of a chronological account of the literature to address overlapping themes, decided that the fruitful way of gathering ‘clues from the encompassing world’ of the participants through images could also be applied to ‘the encompassing world’ of the relevant literature. The five dominant images that the researcher developed to summarise and analyse the leadership literature emerged from her critical reading of and reflection on the literature and her concern to use familiar images in order to provide clarity about the key concepts of the literature that could be clustered around each image. It also became clear to the researcher through her critical reading of and reflection on the literature that the literature could be summarised and analysed in terms of several dominant agendas for leadership as well as the dominant images of leadership that she had developed.

3.2 The Dominant Images

A summary of the key concepts in the leadership literature viewed through the five dominant leadership images which have been developed for this thesis is presented in Table 3.1. These images reflect Western, industrialised culture, particularly American cultural values, and present an understanding of leadership as the property or possession of a select number of powerful males who ‘make it to the top’.

Table 3.1 Summary of key concepts of the leadership literature viewed through five dominant leadership images

DOMINANT IMAGE

LEADERSHIP FOCUS

FOLLOWERSHIP STYLE

PURPOSE OF LEADERSHIP

The Lone Ranger

Traits

Great Man

 

Submission

Dependence

Passivity

Order

Stability

Control

The Godfather

Personal power

Rewards and Punishment

  


Compliance

Obedience




Prestige

Power

Control

Benevolent Caretaking

The Pied Piper

Organisational Goals

Follower Needs

The Situational Context

Participative

March-in-step

Goal-focused

Productivity

Efficiency

Control

Management

Peter Stuyvesant

Excellence

Self Interest

Ambition

Excellence

Organisational transformation to achieve excellent performance and profits=PROGRESS

Braveheart

Charisma

Transformation

Vision

Loyalty

Commitment

Motivation

Extraordinary performance and profits =TRANSFORMATION

The Lone Ranger Image of Leadership

The Lone Ranger image of leadership takes its name from the masked man of the television series who rides his white horse into the fray in order to maintain order, stability and control in a lawless society. The Lone Ranger works alone, except for his semi-servant, Tonto, who has no status. This image encapsulates those theories of leadership which focus on the leader as a ‘Great Man’ whose leadership is imbued with a mysterious aura and power. Lone Ranger leadership is based on the possession of certain leadership traits by a limited number of individuals whose role it is to maintain control, consistency and predictability in a chaotic and uncertain world. A classic description of Lone Ranger leadership is Carlyle’s (1902, pp. 225-226) essay on The Hero as King.

The Lone Ranger model of leadership is as popular today as it was in Carlyle’s time, and a trait orientation to leadership can be found scattered throughout the literature (House & Aditya 1997). Certain traits are seen as a necessary precondition for successful leadership (Caroselli 1990; Kirkpatrick & Locke 1995; Waitley 1995, p. 55; DeCrane 1996; Wilhelm 1996 ; Townsend & Gebhardt 1997); as antecedents to charismatic leadership and effectiveness (House, Spangler & Woycke 1991); as the source for the motivation of managers (Miner & Crane 1981; McClelland & Boyatzis 1982; House, Shane & Herold 1996). The Lone Ranger image of leadership is especially evident in the numerous stories of ‘captains of industry’ who, it has been suggested, ‘justify their own position through myths and legends that endorse their prowess’ (Watkins 1989, p. 13). The definition of leadership as ‘deliberately causing people-driven actions in a planned fashion for the purpose of accomplishing the leader’s agenda’ (Crosby 1996, p. 2) is typical within the framework of understanding that this image suggests.

This image of leadership persists in spite of the fact that the research findings have been inconsistent or modest at best (Stogdill 1948; Lassey 1976; Smith & Peterson 1988, p. 12; House & Aditya 1997). It is difficult to account for the enduring appeal of this image of leadership in any way other than as an expression of the social myth about the need to be dependent on great leaders, especially in times of uncertainty and chaos (Gemmill & Oakley 1992). Vanourek (1995, p. 301) describes the continuing attractiveness of this image of leadership, as well as its inherent weakness:

So we romanticize the tough guys, the lonely commanders. We assume they have some answers better than ours. We seek benevolent leaders, but then we often watch them fall victim to the drug effect of power in office. The power too often becomes coercive or manipulative.

The Peter Stuyvesant Image of Leadership

The Peter Stuyvesant image of leadership is summed up by the motto in the advertisements for Peter Stuyvesant cigarettes: When only the best will do ... and isn’t that all the time? This image of leadership emphasises leadership as the pursuit of excellence. Effective leadership is that which delivers excellent organisations, excellent people in organisations, excellent products and services for the clients and customers of the organisation and excellent profits for the shareholders. Leadership is recognised in terms of the excellence of the results. The leaders who achieve excellence themselves possess excellent traits such as creativity, charisma, visionary purpose and energy. This image of leadership encourages those who would aspire to be leaders to ‘learn from the best while they’re good and move on when they lose their edge’ (Waterman 1994, p. 281).

Peters and Waterman (1982), Peters and Austin (1985), and Waterman (1994) are the chief architects of the movement in leadership studies which equates leadership with the task of transforming an organisation to achieve excellence. This movement was short-lived in that the companies described as excellent in 1982 were no longer excellent five years later when Peters (1987, p. 3) declared ‘There are no excellent companies’. In the same year Hitt and Ireland (1987) criticised the culture of excellent companies from the perspective of organisational culture. In his later books (1987, 1992) Peters continues, however, to refer to ‘the new exemplars’ (1992, chapter 1) and the Peter Stuyvesant image continues to appear in leadership studies (for example, Nygren & Ukeritis 1993) and in the ongoing spate of texts which describe the practices of successful CEOs (for example, Farkas, de Backer & Sheppard 1995; Sarros & Butchatsky 1996). The concept of value has replaced that of excellence in some of the literature, but the emphasis is the same.

This leadership image surfaces in the report of the Australian Government’s Industry Task Force on Leadership and Management Skills (1995), the Karpin Report, which names the achievement of best practice management development as one of five key challenges facing Australia. It identifies many exemplars in its assessments of international best practice in management and leadership. The Peter Stuyvesant image of leadership is also emphasised in the leadership literature which focuses on personal benchmarking for excellence (Waitley 1995, pp. 38-66). While benchmarking for excellence is useful for ensuring high standards and for directing aspirations, the process can become ‘a compliant and dependent form of learning’ (Block 1996, p. 64), a mimicking activity which limits creativity and a sense of ownership and responsibility for a particular organisational direction, service and product. The ongoing search for best practice in order to achieve superior performance is firmly embedded in the values of the mechanistic world view described in Chapter 2 of this thesis, with excellence automatically being equated with profit, success and progress.

The Godfather Image of Leadership

Another dominant leadership image in the literature is that of the Godfather. This image has been popularised in the Hollywood portrayal of the Godfather character in Mario Puzo’s novels. The image of a leader exercising unlimited power, because of a perceived ability to reinforce the behaviour of group members by granting or denying rewards or punishments, is particularly evident in small firms where there is an organised labour market and where the status hierarchy and the knowledge hierarchy coincide (Clegg, 1990, pp. 87-88). Once smaller enterprises develop into large scale organisations, leadership activities consistent with the Godfather image of leadership become more difficult to sustain and less acceptable to both followers and clients.

The image of a strong leader at the top of a hierarchy determining the vision and strategy and articulating the goals of the group as well as manipulating and negotiating (rewarding and punishing) so that the goals of the group are attained is, nonetheless, a dominant leadership image of the 1980s (Peters & Waterman 1982; Bennis & Nanus 1985; Gardner 1986; Schatz & Schatz 1986; Tichy & Devanna 1986; Kotter 1988; Roberts 1989; Zaleznik 1989). As the enterprise bargaining experience in Australia in the 1990s is demonstrating, the insertion of several layers of management in the hierarchies of large organisations and the development of sophisticated industrial relations legislation does not necessarily eliminate the pressure to do what the leader wants done, in order to gain rewards (increased salary packages and better working conditions) and to avoid punishment (insufficient salary increases and perhaps even retrenchment).

The Pied Piper Image of Leadership

The Pied Piper image of leadership is one which encompasses humanistic theories (for example, Likert 1961; Argyris 1962, 1964; McGregor 1966), behavioural theories (for example, Fleishman & Harris 1962; Blake & Mouton 1964; Hersey & Blanchard 1972), situational theories and research (for example, Fiedler 1967; Vroom & Yetton 1973; House & Mitchell 1974; Fiedler & Garcia 1987; Graen & Uhl-Bien 1995) and exchange theories (for example, Jacobs 1970; Hollander 1985) of leadership. Many leadership definitions reflect this image of leadership (for example, Boles & Davenport 1975, p. 117; Burns 1978, p. 425; Sergiovanni 1984, pp. 105-106; Whitehead & Whitehead 1986, p. 75; Gardner 1990, p.1). The Karpin Report’s (1995) definition of a leader as ‘an individual who achieves enterprise goals through the work of others without relying on her or his position or power’ is characteristic of the understanding of leadership reflected in this image. Similar to this definition is Koestenbaum’s (1991, p. 316) definition of a leader as ‘a person who is truly effective in achieving worthy results, in any field, and no matter what the obstacles, with unfailing regard for human beings’. Pied Piper leadership is based on the principle that profit is the result of creating an environment that encourages people’s creativity, nurtures their commitment and inspires their discretionary effort (Rosen 1996, p. 9).

Despite its pervasiveness as an image of leadership, the Pied Piper image has not been without its critics. Bass (1981, pp. 446-447) comes to the conclusion that the empirical status of this model of leadership is equivocal and that research results have been mixed. Fiedler’s work has been criticised because of concerns about its methodological and empirical bases (Yukl 1971; Ashour 1973; Bass 1981; Jago 1982), because it is manipulative of employees (Perrow 1972) and because he confuses leaders with managers (Rost 1993). The theories encapsulated in the Pied Piper image of leadership have been criticised by the social reconstructionists and critical theorists. Angus (1989, p. 69) criticises them for emphasising the role of the leader in controlling the well-being of the followers and thereby denying them personal agency. In similar vein, Rost (1993) suggests that if it is the leader’s goals that dominate the group or organisation, then the leader who assists followers to achieve the goals of the organisation is really little different from the leader who promises rewards or threatens punishment. Foster (1986, p.6) identifies the major weakness of the theories and research which express the Pied Piper image of leadership as the assumption that managers can alter their own behaviour and then cause some group outcome as well, an assumption that reflects leadership ‘as a form of control and management’. This research has had inconsistent and disappointing results. In spite of such critiques over a long period of time, the Pied Piper image of leadership continues to be popular (Kotter 1988; Hughes, Ginnett & Curphy 1993; Farkas, De Backer & Sheppard 1995, chapter 3).

The Braveheart Image of Leadership

The Braveheart image of leadership takes its name from the portrayal of the charismatic Scots leader, William Wallace, in the Hollywood film Braveheart.

At the centre of the Braveheart image of leadership is the transformational leader who ‘motivates us to do more than we originally expected’ (Bass 1985, p. 20). The Braveheart leader displays symbolic leadership behaviours that arouse extraordinary levels of follower motivation, dedication and identification with the leader’s vision and values. Given the contemporary context of discontinuous change it is not surprising that transformational leadership is a favoured topic in leadership studies in recent times (for example, Bass 1985; Bennis & Nanus 1985; Whitehead & Whitehead 1986; Tichy & Devanna 1986; Conger & Kanungo 1988; Nanus 1989; Bass & Avolio 1993; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Parry 1996).

There is some lack of clarity surrounding this image of leadership. The original notion of transforming leadership described by Burns (1978) is based on the leader’s willingness to transcend one’s own self-interest for the good of the group and to attend to the purpose of the organisation and its social responsibilities. For Burns, transforming leadership is based on higher order values such as freedom and justice. Such leadership occurs:

when one or more persons engage with others in such a way that leaders and followers raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality ...Power bases are linked not as counterweights but as mutual support for common purpose (Burns 1978, p. 20).

The Braveheart image of leadership described by Burns (1978) as transforming leadership is set in a social and political context where leaders and followers in organisations together engage in a process that will transform themselves and lead to social change, the test of transforming leadership. Bass’s (1985) development of the concept differs substantially. ‘Transforming’ leadership becomes ‘transformational’ leadership and the vision of the Braveheart leader is limited to an organisational context where the transformational leader transforms organisational structures and the behaviours and mindsets of followers in order to achieve the institutional goals of performance and profits beyond expectations. It is Bass’s (1985) concept of transformational leadership that has informed the Braveheart image of leadership in the literature (for example, Tichy & Devanna 1986; Conger & Kanungo 1994; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Kouzes & Posner 1997), largely because it is situated in the organisational context which has dominated the field of leadership studies in the last twenty-five years.

The leadership literature that deals with cultural leadership (Deal & Kennedy 1982; Vaill 1984; Gardner 1990; Hollander & Offermann 1990; E. H. Schein 1985, 1995), entrepreneurship (Ansoff 1988; Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Peters 1987; Waterman 1994), and visionary leadership (Bennis & Nanus 1985; Nanus 1992; Sashkin 1995; Kouzes & Posner 1997) can also be incorporated under the Braveheart image of leadership. The literature dealing with charismatic leadership (Nadler & Tushman 1990; Conger & Kanungo 1994) is also encompassed by the Braveheart image of leadership, even though there is debate about whether transformational leadership subsumes charismatic leadership or whether transformational, charismatic and visionary leadership are essentially the same (Pascale 1990, p. 67; Smith & Peterson 1988, p. 117; Rost 1993, p. 85; House & Aditya 1997). The Braveheart image of the leader has taken on an explicitly mechanistic nuance in the description of visionary leaders as ‘genetic architects of the biological corporation’ with responsibility for ‘creating and maintaining the genetic imprint that makes a corporation unique and keeps it competitive’ (Gouillart & Kelly 1995, p. 3).

Leadership theories and research associated with this image of leadership are not without problems. For example, there are no conclusive findings about the way in which charismatic or transformational leadership behaviours are related to the affective responses of followers. Perhaps the most important critique of these theories and associated research is given by House and Aditya (1997, p. 443):

Further, there is little evidence that charismatic, transformational, or visionary leadership does indeed transform individuals, groups, large divisions of organizations, or total organizations, despite claims that they do so. It may well be that such leaders induce changes in followers’ psychological states, but that these states do not continue after the separation of leader and follower. There is no evidence demonstrating stable and long-term effects of leaders on follower self-esteem, motives, desires, preferences, or values.

Five Images - One Understanding of Leadership

In each of the images of leadership described, leadership is understood as a possession or a property of an individual, more particularly a male individual, because of particular traits, behaviours, skills or charisma that the leader has or because of the position that the leader holds. This understanding of leadership reflects the highly individualistic and hierarchical aspects of the mechanistic world view with its emphasis on values such as individualism, personalism and autonomy. Although most of the leadership literature has perpetuated the melding of leadership with the leader and with the leader’s position, some theorists have defined leadership as a relationship or as a process (for example, Selznik 1957; Boles & Davenport 1975; Greenleaf 1977; Burns 1978; Gardner 1986; Sergiovanni 1989; Rost 1993; Blank 1995; Lipman-Blumen 1996). Such definitions have gained little currency given the strength of the dominant images in the literature.

Within the understanding of leadership as a possession or a position an issue that emerges from the review of the literature is the lack of a clear definition of leadership as is evidenced in the variety of leadership foci in Table 3.1. Kay (1994, p. 297) believes that much of the ferment in research on leadership stems from different conceptualisations of leadership which include:

a process of mutual influencing between leaders and followers, influencing other people in a given direction, or influencing the activities of an organized group toward goal achievement; as a particular type of power relationship; as the initiation and maintenance of structure; as a process of effecting an integration between individual needs and organisational goals; as the creation of a vision about a desired future state; as the promotion and protection of values; and as the generation of a sense of direction.

The lack of clarity about the definition of leadership is largely responsible for the ongoing identification of leadership with the leader and for the ongoing debate about whether or not managers and leaders should be distinguished, a debate which can best be summarised by saying that there are some studies that see leadership and management as two distinct but complementary activities (Burns 1978; Bass 1990b; Kotter 1990; Naisbitt & Aburdene 1990; Zaleznik 1990; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Blank 1995; Covey 1996; Townsend & Gebhardt 1997) and some writers who conclude that leadership is one role that managers play (Mintzberg 1982; Darcy & Kleiner 1991; Roberts & Hunt 1991; Nicholls 1993). As a result of his analysis, Rost (1993) has developed a coherent and consistent definition of leadership that addresses the above issue. The definition of leadership as ‘an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes that reflect their mutual purposes’ (Rost 1993, p. 102) is the definition of leadership which is adopted in this thesis.

In particular, leadership is presented in these five images as the property of male individuals, and the images themselves take their names from men of action. Indeed, it would be extremely difficult if not impossible to find female figures who would capture the understanding of leadership portrayed in the literature. Nor is it possible to substitute feminine names for the masculine names of the images. For example, to speak of a godmother as opposed to a godfather image of leadership totally changes the understanding of leadership. As Blackmore (1995, pp. 44-56) points out, leadership is embodied in the masculine form. This is an inevitable result of the dominance of patriarchal systems of governance which sustain the social order within the mechanistic world view described in Chapter 2 of the thesis, a dominance which is being critiqued with the emergence of a holistic world view.

Because leadership in these images is located within a person and identified with the position held by that person, power and privilege are also centralised in the person called leader. Whether that power is exercised in order to control, to reward or punish, to inspire, to achieve goals or to empower others, it is a top-down, an in-front or a from-the-centre exercise of power simply because it is centralised in a person and a position. A result of this centralisation of power and privilege in the leader is that followers are depicted as compliant, passive and dependent, or as committed to the leader’s vision. Where attention is given to the interaction between leaders and followers (for example, Gardner 1986, 1990; Hersey & Blanchard 1995), the leader and the leadership role is seen as more important than the role of the followers and the interaction is studied usually to further the understanding of the leader’s role. This centralisation of power and privilege is a key element of the bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership described in Chapter 2 of the thesis. There is an emerging view that insists that followers need to be seen as an integral and active part of the leadership process, often possessing the same qualities and characteristics as leaders in order to be effective in that process and engaged in equal but different activities within it (Greenleaf 1977; Rost 1993; R.E. Kelley 1995; Block 1996; Rosen 1996; D.K. Smith 1996). For followers to be acknowledged as integral and equal partners in the leadership process demands that leaders and followers put paid to the faulty premises that are implicit in the bureaucratic-managerial understanding of leadership: that leaders are more important than followers; that leadership has to be taught but everyone knows how to follow; that following is simply following the instructions of the leaders; and that followers derive their energy, motivation and direction from leaders (R.E. Kelley 1995, p. 202). Again, this emerging view has not yet had much impact on the understanding of leadership contained within the dominant images in the literature.

The summary of the purpose of leadership viewed through the five dominant leadership images in the management and leadership literature shows that the literature is imbued with the assumptions underlying the mechanistic world view. The purposes of leadership summarised in Table 3.1 - control, management, productivity, progress, efficiency and profit - are like a litany of praise to the values of the mechanistic world view. The key concept of interconnectedness in the holistic world view demands a wider focus for leadership purposes beyond self-interest to the promotion of relatedness within an organisation and between an organisation and the wider community, both local and global.

There is no doubt that the dominant images of leadership which recur in the leadership and management literature give insight into a bureaucratic-managerial understanding of leadership based on the assumptions of the mechanistic world view as described in Chapter 2 of this thesis. The images present a picture of leadership as the exercise of personal or positional power, of the major context for leadership as the large organisation, of the effort and commitment that can be commanded by those who possess the right combination of traits and a high level of testosterone and of there being one leader and many followers in any organisation. The limitations of such an understanding of leadership and the need to explore and practise new ways of exercising leadership which are more consonant with an emerging holistic world view have been discussed in Chapter 2 of this thesis. This research intends to respond to that need, a response which is not evident in the existing literature.

3.3 The Dominant Agendas

Although the leadership literature at times appears to be a ‘mixed bag of subspecialized literatures’ (Rost 1993, p. 15) and a mixture of contradictory, overlapping discourses (Blackmore 1995, p. 45), it is, as illustrated in Section 3.2 of this thesis dominated by discourses of managerialism and entrepreneurialism which reflect a bureaucratic-managerial understanding of leadership as described in Chapter 2. Leadership is still largely, though not exclusively, exercised within organisations and institutions which are the means through which people participate in modernity (Clegg 1990, p.5). It is not, therefore, surprising that it is the organisational agendas for leadership that dominate the leadership literature, rather than political or social agendas. Three of these dominant agendas are identified by C.K. Prahalad and defined by Stace and Dunphy (1994, p. 55) as follows:

The first of these [Prahalad] calls the intellectual agenda: the vision, ‘strategic intent’, and business strategy positioning of an organization. ... The second agenda is the management agenda: this is concerned with building appropriate structures and networks, introducing appropriate technologies and systems, and having the courage to reallocate resources. The third is the behavioural agenda: this focuses on creating corporate values and ethics, developing appropriate leadership styles, learning systems, competencies and skills, reinforcement and rewards for appropriate employee behaviours.

Although these three leadership agendas do not deal specifically with leadership, the literature outlining these agendas is significant because it reflects the predominant concerns of leaders and the expectations that organisations have of leaders. Within the limited organisational framework which dominates the leadership literature, these agendas both reflect and determine the dominant understanding of leadership in the Western world today.

A fourth leadership agenda is that found in the Women in Management literature which critiques mainstream/malestream management theories and has included gender as a significant element in any discussion of management theory and practice. Women are rarely mentioned in any detailed way in mainstream/malestream leadership literature. As is evident from the review of literature in this chapter, the dominant images, the researchers and the theorists are male. The samples from which the established theories of leadership have been derived (for example, Fiedler 1967; Vroom & Yetton 1973; House & Mitchell 1974; Stogdill 1974) have been male. Indeed, women are considered to be unsuitable as leaders (Appelbaum & Shapiro 1993). As has been stated earlier, such a situation is not surprising given the centrality of the patriarchal social order within a mechanistic world view.

With the agenda that has emerged in the Women in Management literature of the 1980s and 1990s, women seem to have found a presence and a voice in leadership studies. This voice seems to critique the dominant leadership images and agendas as well as the temptation to value essentialist women’s qualities for leadership. The literature which contains this agenda for leadership is significant in terms of its potential to critique the dominant male images of leadership and the understanding of leadership within the mechanistic world view as outlined in Chapter 2 of this thesis.

The Interlectual Agenda For Leadership

The intellectual agenda, while it usually involves planning, is more broadly understood as the ‘intellectual set of understandings which daily guide the directions and behaviour of the organisation’ (Stace & Dunphy 1994, p. 57). It includes what Limerick and Cunnington (1993, p. 160) call ‘the management of mindsets’, and ‘has to do with constant attention to establishing and communicating the very meaning of the system’.

Features of this agenda include the move from independent, competitive strategies to collaborative strategies (Kanter 1989; Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hames 1994); the priority of building relationships with customers, suppliers and employees (Peters 1992; Hames 1994; Hammer & Champy 1994; Waterman 1994); the management of meaning and mission (Smith & Peterson 1988; Ramey 1991; Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hames 1994; Stace & Dunphy 1994).

The relevant literature suggests that there are three key issues that managers must address in managing the intellectual agenda of an organisation. First, there is the challenge to create and sustain a ‘corporate capacity for innovation’ (Peters 1987, p.193): the organisation must be flexible, responsive and adaptive (Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hames 1994; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Waterman 1994; Clancy & Webber 1995). Second, the identity of the organisation is the key strategic problem of the intellectual agenda (Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hammer & Champy 1994). Third, organisations must be able to straddle continuity and discontinuity (Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hames 1994; Stace & Dunphy 1994). The research of Stace and Dunphy (1994, p. 231) indicates that ‘the better enterprises avoid a stop-start approach to change; they are in a state of permanent productive revolution, challenging the boundaries of their thinking’. These three issues require critical leaders who will ‘build the syzygy that provides organisations with their “health”, their ability to be continuously able to adapt in order to flourish in the world of living systems’ (Clancy & Webber 1995, p. 10). The intellectual agenda for leadership emphasises the importance of the study of strategic leadership but, as House and Aditya (1997) indicate, until recently this topic has been largely unresearched and leadership studies have focused on supervisors and lower-level managers.

The Management Agenda For Leadership

Older organisational structures in their two main forms of machine bureaucracies and divisional structures are in demise (Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Hames 1994; Stace & Dunphy 1994). It was assumed that these older organisational forms would promote the stability and control needed to ensure productivity and profit (Peters 1987; Wheatley 1992). The new management agenda for leadership warns of the dangers of excessive bureaucratic structures and advocates the development of cooperative processes (Peters 1987; Hammer & Champy 1994; Waterman 1994). The organisation that restructures ‘looks and operates very differently from the swollen, lethargic “corpocracy”’ that many organisations have become (Kanter 1989, p. 115). It is not only the company that looks different; it is also the leadership. Changing organisational structures have both induced a new leadership agenda and have become the major component of that agenda. Charles Handy (1989, p. 71) describes this changing management agenda:

Organizations used to be perceived as gigantic pieces of engineering with largely interchangeable human parts. We talked of their structures and their systems of inputs and outputs, of control devices and of managing them, as if the whole was one large factory. Today the language is not that of engineering but of politics, with talk of cultures and networks, of teams and coalitions, of influence or power rather than control, of leadership, not management.

This new management agenda for leaders calls for flatter structures in which managers become ‘facilitators rather than turf guardians’ (Peters 1987, p. 43) and for devolution through the development of small business units and project style operations (Peters 1987, 1992; Kanter 1989; Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Hames 1994; Waterman 1994). Peters (1992) and Waterman (1994) also see the management agenda characterised by a move from bureaucracy to adhocracy, ‘any group coming together from different departments to solve common problems’ (Waterman 1994, p. 283).

The most notable change in the management agenda is the development of strategic divisions and strategic networks. Organisations are finding these new strategic structures ‘of major benefit as a means of expanding, contracting and maneuvering through the demands of product and service shifts and innovation’ (Peters 1992, pp. 149-150). At corporate level, the main examples of these new structures are strategic business units, clusters, and strategic networks (Handy 1989; Kanter 1989; Mills 1991; Dunphy & Stace 1992; Peters 1992; Limerick & Cunnington 1993; Stace & Dunphy 1994; Waterman 1994).

These structural changes have a serious impact on the roles of managers and leaders, for they mean that managers and leaders no longer command, control, organise and delegate, but rather act as mentors, trainers, coaches, consultants, resource officers (for example, Stace & Dunphy 1994; Farkas, De Backer & Sheppard 1995), counsellors, co-ordinators, associates (Hames 1994), spokespersons, change agents, direction setters (Nanus 1992) and collaborative individuals (Limerick & Cunnington 1993).

The Behavioural Agenda For Leadership

The key aspects of this agenda are the creation of a corporate culture of shared values, vision and symbols, of shared norms such as excellence or customer service and of learning systems. The culture of a group is the pattern of shared meanings and assumptions that the majority of the members of a group adhere to across all units of the organisation in order to deal with internal problems and external disturbances (Deal & Kennedy 1982, pp. 3-19; Kleiner & Corrigan 1989; Schein 1995, pp. 271-281; Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 184). Organisational culture has also been described as a programmed way of seeing derived from shared meanings and values or as a collective programming of the mind (Pheysey 1993, p. 19; Hofstede 1995, p. 265).

According to this agenda, it is the role of leaders to create, to manage and to change organisational culture to ensure that the organisation can achieve internal integration and can adapt to external changes in order to enhance performance within the shifting needs of the marketplace (Deal & Kennedy 1982; Schein 1995). It is the responsibility of top management to make the configuration design of the organisation more explicit (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 172); to reinforce and maintain a box of cultural controls based on values and behaviours (Farkas, De Backer & Sheppard 1995, p. 115); to remould organisational cultures (Stace & Dunphy 1994, p. 132). Although leaders’ styles of doing leadership differ in different organisational cultures (Pheysey 1993, pp. 142-163), the focus of leadership remains the same: ‘to navigate the corporate trawler through the shoals of value, in constantly changing waters where fishing rights are ill-defined’ (Gouillart & Kelly 1995, p.46).

The second key aspect of this agenda, the creation of learning systems, is closely linked to that of corporate culture. The literature on the learning organisation insists that an organisation must facilitate the learning of its members and help them to expand their capacity to create the results they desire; it must be an organisation that is not only capable of learning, but also of learning to learn; it must nurture expansive patterns of thinking and continuously transform itself (Pedler, Boydell & Burgoyne 1989, p. 2; Senge 1990, p. 3; Swieringa & Wierdsma 1992, p. 71; Garvin 1993, p. 80). The organisations that will survive are those that have ‘strategies and structures purposefully being developed to facilitate and coordinate learning in rapidly changing and conflictual circumstances’ (Dodgson 1993, p. 380). Such survival is ultimately the responsibility of the leadership of the organisation.

The role of the leader who carries out this aspect of the behavioural agenda for leadership is different from that of the leader in the traditional bureaucratic organisation. This role is best described by Senge (1990, p. 340), the leading architect of the concept of the learning organisation:

In a learning organisation, leaders are designers, stewards, and teachers. They are responsible for building organizations where people continually expand their capabilities to understand complexity, clarify vision, and improve shared mental models - that is, they are responsible for learning.

A New Journey on an Old Path

These three agendas for leadership which permeate the leadership and management literature of the past twenty years seem to provide leaders with an opportunity to address issues such as hierarchy and centralisation of power. They focus on strategies for dismantling structures that promote bureaucracy and hierarchy, and on developing alternatives such as multifunctional units and strategic alliances. They present new leadership roles that appear to go beyond the bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership.

However, while these new leadership roles of coach, counsellor, manager of meaning or designer may have a more benevolent face, power and privilege continue to be maintained in the leadership roles even if they are used in a more nurturing and less hierarchical way (Block 1996, p. 105). Even the concept of collaborative individualism which describes ‘the dynamics of empowered autonomous individuals who choose to collaborate with others’ (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 230) and is an attempt to build the new organisation around a relational understanding of power is ultimately constrained by the fact that it is discussed in the context of a patriarchal system of governance where power is institutionalised in those at the top of the organisation, whether or not they are called leaders and whether they exercise power as benevolent caretakers or as autocrats. According to Limerick and Cunnington (1993), the management of collaboration is, in the end, the management of identity and meaning (p. 230) and the management of identity and meaning is primarily the role of the CEO (p. 202). In spite of the centrality of networking in the new organisation, this networking is reinforced by ‘managerial action aimed at changing structures, developing individual capacities and mindsets, and developing self-transcendental capacities within organisations’ (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 236). Such action addresses the major agendas for leadership outlined above and significantly highlights that management continues to be the locus of responsibility and power, even though the assumption is that in a strategic network ‘there are not huge differences of power between those within the organisation’ (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 238). The management of the identity of the organisation ‘tends to fall heavily on the shoulders of the CEO and the managers of the various business units’ (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 201).

Limerick and Cunnington (1993, pp. 238-240) acknowledge the problem of systemic disempowerment in network organisations; yet they continue to focus on managers and their commitment to social justice and the management of diversity as the source of the solution to the problem. The ‘true spirit of empowerment’ is ‘a deliberate choice by key actors in our institutions to empower others’ (Limerick & Cunnington 1993, p. 229), a paternalistic and hierarchical understanding of the way in which power works in an organisation, based on the assumption that power is the property of someone who can give it away from a position of superiority. Such solutions to the problems of systemic disempowerment continue to acknowledge that power is in the hands of those who are in the position of ‘leader’, even though they may act as collaborative individuals (See Figure 3.1).

HIERARCHICAL

LEADERSHIP

Figure 3.1 The use of power in hierarchical leadership compared with the use of power in the concept of collaborative individualism proposed by Limerick and Cunnington (1993)

Onyx (1994, p. 15) believes that the problem of the contradiction of simultaneous control and empowerment in the mainstream management literature arises from ‘recognising the cost of remaining within the autocratic leadership/bureaucratic control organisation’, and ‘trying to draw the strength of the charismatic leadership/participatory democratic organisation tradition, thus blurring the boundaries between these two types.’

It is easy to be seduced by the agendas for leadership presented in the mainstream management literature into thinking that there is a new understanding of leadership emerging. In reality, leadership continues to be the possession of those we call ‘leaders’ and, while the structures within which leadership is exercised are more participatory and democratic, Onyx (1994, p. 6) points out that there remains an ‘inherent contradiction between the promise of empowerment and the reality of control by the leader’. It is also important to note that the origins of these agendas for leadership in the management literature ‘do not lie in any recognition of disempowerment, but in the entrepreneurialism of the 1980s’ and as such are linked to ‘the reassertion of management’s right to manage’ (Ozga & Walker 1995, p. 37).

The intellectual, management and behavioural agendas place a huge burden of expectation on managers and leaders. These agendas reinforce the belief that those at the top of our organisations are responsible for the success of the organisation in terms of vision, structures and culture. The changes that are at the heart of these agendas, for example, structural change, leave the power and privilege system intact. Because the belief system about leaders being responsible and about choice and resources being at the centre rather than at the margins of a system remains, then nothing fundamental changes (Pirsig 1974, p. 94; Block 1996, p. 103). Power and privilege remain centralised and localised in those who have the qualities and the position of leader, and no matter how hard we try to get a better, more collaborative or more transformational leader or a flatter structure or a more strategic vision, our attempts will fail as long as we continue to endorse a patriarchal system of governance (Block 1996, pp 23-33).

The agendas for leadership that form the majority of the content of the leadership and management literature of the last twenty years suggest that change is happening; but the constant search for a new organisational ‘fix’ suggests that the changes are cosmetic. According to Hilmer and Donaldson (1996, p. 125), ‘what [is] classified as the new clan-type corporate culture [is] really nothing more than old-fashioned hoopla and hype propagated by the hierarchy’. Block (1996, p. 186) uses the image of restlessly switching from one television channel to another without questioning that it is the act of watching television that is the source of discontent. He also asserts that the organisational changes made with such rapidity do not change the rules; they simply help us to better adapt to the same game (Block 1996, p. 53). White, Hodgson and Crainer (1996, p. 27) speak of a new vocabulary grounded in the same old ideas. In spite of the new agendas for leadership, leadership studies in the 1980s and 1990s as examined through the dominant leadership images and agendas are a new journey on an old path in terms of understanding leadership; they do not carry us into the new leadership terrain that must be successfully negotiated in the transition from a mechanistic to a holistic world view.

The Women in Management Agenda for Leadership

Under the impact of a crumbling mechanistic world view and the emergence of a holistic world view, the search for more effective leadership in the 1980s, led to the concept of the androgynous manager who blends the characteristics of assertiveness, vision, competitiveness and single-mindedness with those of compassion, cooperation, concern for relationships and intuition. This concept put some elements of femininity into the leadership equation, but V.E. Schein (1995, p. 162) astutely comments that this androgynous approach to effective leadership ‘builds a managerial access bridge for women on a shaky foundation of sand’, a view supported by Calas and Smircich (1993, p. 224), who warn that the ‘apparent valuing of some “essential women’s” qualities maintains an illusion of opportunity and equality for women in the managerial world, while at the same time obstructing critical examination of the very pervasive theoretical assumptions sustaining that world’. The Women in Management agenda for leadership attempts to critically examine the theoretical assumptions of the managerial world. It is not a simple agenda; it is a broad and complex set of issues and theories which explain women’s absence from the leadership literature and the barriers to their attainment of leadership positions. There are four major components to the Women in Management agenda for leadership.

The first component encompasses the literature which focuses on the inequities between men and women in work settings, and is based on those theories which see nothing wrong with leadership theory except that women are unfairly blocked from achieving leadership positions because of discrimination by the majority of the population in general and by white men in power in particular. Within the framework of an equal rights perspective, the literature dealing with inequities in work settings deals with issues such as the increased participation of women in the workforce, the sexual segregation of occupations, the significance of technology in the sexual division of labour at home and at work, the analysis of internal movements for equity in organisations and the analysis of political policies and with the phenomenon known as ‘the glass ceiling’. The image of a glass ceiling has been used to describe ‘a barrier so subtle that it is transparent, yet so strong that it prevents women and minorities from moving up the management hierarchy’ (Morrison & Von Glinow 1990, p. 200). This image attempts to describe a ‘bias that happens all the time and is both overt and covert, organisational and interpersonal’ (Auster 1993, p. 49). This component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership emphasises strategies such as affirmative action, equal employment opportunities, quotas, a reduction of the number of men in management and the rapid introduction of a critical mass of women in leadership positions (Still 1995).

There is no doubt that inequities between men and women in work settings exist (Still 1985; Still, Guerin & Chia 1992; Still 1993; Swain 1995; Davidson 1995a). The ongoing under-representation of women in leadership positions is well documented (Morrison, White & Van Velsor 1987; Morrison & Von Glinow 1990; Weeks 1994; Burton 1995; Davidson 1995a; Limerick & Lingard 1995; Still 1995). A variety of research has been carried out to analyse the reasons for the inequities between men and women with regard to promotion to leadership positions. Discrimination and stereotyping are not always identified as the reasons for the unequal balance of women and men in leadership positions in organisations (Andrew, Coderre & Denis 1990; Pazy 1992; Powell & Butterfield 1994; Rojahn & Willemsen 1994). Some research does, however, support a continued prejudice toward women based on sex role stereotyping and continued discrimination from predominantly male promotional gatekeepers as the main barriers to women’s promotion to positions of leadership (Nieva & Gutek 1981; Cook & Mendleson 1984; Butler & Geis 1990; Schein & Mueller 1992; Schein & Davidson 1993; Schein 1994; Morrison 1995). Davidson (1995a, p. 18) sums up this research:

All else being equal, the perceived similarity between the characteristics of successful middle managers and men in general increases the likelihood of a male rather than a female being selected for or promoted into a managerial position. As such, future managers and leaders of Britain’s business organisations can be expected to view women as less qualified for managerial positions, and make selection, placement and promotion decisions that impact negatively on women’s advancement.

Other evidence suggests that the reason for the decline in the number of women advancing to leadership positions is the exodus of increasing numbers of women from corporate cultures that are male dominated, family unfriendly and non-collaborative (Rosin & Korabik 1991; Still & Guerin 1991; Brett & Stroh 1994; Davidson 1995a). Ramsay (1995, p. 183) believes that the metaphor of the glass ceiling hides in a metaphorical abstraction the actual activities and events which constitute the barriers to women’s promotion, and she believes it is ‘unlikely that much progress will be made in terms of women’s representation in senior management until the behaviour which men use to exclude, marginalise and undermine women in management is exposed to public scrutiny, analysis and challenge’.

This component of the Women in Manangement agenda for leadership continues to be firmly centred in the bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership and continues to discuss leadership within a patriarchal system of governance. The images of ceilings, ladders, poles and promotion are reflections of hierarchical and bureaucratic realities. The underlying assumption of this component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership seems to be that organisational change and new understandings of leadership will occur if women simply occupy a greater proportion of corporate director and managerial positions. The ‘add women and stir’ approach does not, however, change the understanding of leadership presented in the dominant images of leadership in Section 3.2 of this chapter nor has it significantly improved women’s opportunities for advancement to positions of leadership.

The second component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership, the ‘gender as a variable’ component, is found in the literature which develops those theories that postulate that women’s differences are responsible for their differential treatment in management. This literature calls for women’s unique styles of leadership to be recognised and valued both within mainstream organisations and within feminist organisations. The person-centred theory of the ‘gender as a variable’ component states that women’s limited leadership progression is because of traits and behaviours intrinsic to women that are not conducive to their becoming managers (Riger & Galligan 1980; Fagenson 1986). There is some research which supports the contention that women have different leadership styles (Shakeshaft 1989, 1995; Rosener 1990; Sinclair & Marriott 1990; Lipman-Blumen 1996). The studies which assume women’s different leadership styles are, however, inconclusive. Studies of men and women in active leadership roles show that persons in parallel positions in organisations who perform similar functions, do not differ in personality, leadership style, motivation or effectiveness (Day & Stogdill 1972; Donnell & Hall 1980; Riger & Galligan 1980; Nieva & Gutek 1981; Dobbins & Platz 1986; Morrison, White & Van Velsor 1987; Brenner, Tomkiewicz & Schein 1989; Eagly & Johnson 1990; Gregory 1990). There are some indications that leadership differences within each sex are greater than the differences between sexes, considering variations in background and experience (Bourantas & Papalexandris 1990; Ferrario 1994; V.E. Schein 1995; Weiner 1995). Weiner’s (1995) research also suggests that to some extent it is value position rather than gender that determines leadership approach.

Generally speaking, the majority of studies testing for sex differences in the laboratory have yielded gender differences, while those conducted in the field have not (Fagenson, 1990, p. 269). Onyx (1994, p. 16) acknowledges that gender differences are less than once thought and are influenced by a number of factors, but maintains that ‘there remain constant differences in preferred leadership styles such that women are more likely to adopt a democratic leadership style, and men are more likely to adopt an autocratic leadership style’. Conclusions derived from research studies in this area are tentative. What has been conclusive, however, is that women are perceived to be less likely to have the traits and skills required for management.

Another theory in the ‘gender as a variable’ component of the Women in Management literature suggests that because women are stereotyped as belonging to the private sphere, they are not perceived as having the necessary traits for operating in the public forum. This is compounded by the fact that in Western society men and masculine traits have traditionally been given a higher status than women and feminine traits. Marshall (1984) points out that as the dominant power in the organisational hierarchy men, like all dominant groups, are concerned to maintain their power in the system and to keep the subdominant group in place by identifying this group as substandard in any number of ways and ascribing to members of this group appropriate social roles. In order to survive, the subdominant group has to attend to the dominant group, adapt or accommodate to its demands and prove that they are both competent and well intentioned (Gregory 1990, p. 258).

Another approach to the ‘gender as a variable’ component of the Women in Management agenda focuses on the organisational structures within which women work. It is organisational structures rather than inherent traits or sex-role orientation that account for women’s behaviour and career path in the workforce. The best known representative of this view is Rosabeth Moss Kanter (1977) who argues that it is women’s disadvantaged position in organisational structures, not gender, that is responsible for women’s traits and behaviours, their minimal job aspirations and their fear of success, assertiveness and risk. Andrew et al. (1990) concur with Kanter’s findings that the numerical distribution of women managers is important. Research conducted in this area is minimal. An inherent weakness in researching this perspective is that the organisation-centred perspective assumes that the person and the structure are independent factors, and factors outside the organisation are often neither considered nor controlled for in these studies.

A final theory in the ‘gender as a variable’ component of the Women in Management agenda in the leadership literature suggests that women’s slow progression up the corporate ladder and women’s organisational behaviour are the result of a combination of their gender, the organisational context and the larger social and institutional system in which they function (Fagenson 1990). This view acknowledges the effect that extra-organisational processes and structures have on organisational processes and structures as well as on individuals within them. Green and Cassell (1996, p. 171) highlight two weaknesses of this view: the difficulty of isolating the key variables which impact upon women’s position within organisations, and the fact that it ‘ignores the overriding importance of divisions and inequalities based upon social class, gender and race which are characteristic of the wider social system’.

More research needs to be done with regard to women’s differences in terms of leadership. This component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership has little to offer, however, in terms of new understandings of leadership. It subscribes to the trait theory of leadership in which leadership is understood as a property possessed by an individual because of particular traits and the consequent position that he or she possesses. This theory is as inadequate in the Women in Management literature as it is in the general leadership literature and can be critiqued for the same reasons as the theories underlying the dominant leadership images discussed in Section 3.2 .

The third component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership is found within the literature that focuses on gender as a constitutive feature of organisational life. This component moves the discussion of barriers to women’s achievement of leadership positions away from the essentialism associated with gender difference toward a constructionist approach (Bohan 1993), where the barriers to women’s leadership are seen in an organisational and patriarchal rather than a personal context. The literature outlining this agenda highlights the gendered nature of organisational processes and culture, and acknowledges that there is an accepted knowledge of what is appropriate for an organisation’s style, a knowledge that is ‘bound up with what “fits” the attributes of male and female - as individuals, as organisational roles, as activities, as competencies’ (Gherardi 1994, p. 594). In this context, gender is ‘the activity of managing situated conduct in the light of normative conceptions of attitudes and activities appropriate for one’s sex category’ (West & Zimmerman 1987, p. 126).

To say that an organisation or any other unit is gendered ‘means that advantage and disadvantage, exploitation and control, meaning and identity are patterned through and in terms of a distinction between male and female, masculine and feminine’ (Acker 1990, p. 146). Organisations and their leadership are gendered masculine in Western culture and, indeed, there is a range of masculine cultures that can be identified in most organisational cultures (Marshall 1984, 1992; Maddock & Parkin 1993; Sinclair 1995a). Acker (1990) argues the need for a systematic theory of gender and organisation and her theory of gendered organisations provides a way of exposing the gendered structures and processes of organisations which reinforce the gendered hierarchies of power.

Little research has been carried out from within this component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership, and the research that has been done has been mainly in the area of sexuality of organisations, and is based on assumptions such as the pervasiveness of the masculine form of sexuality in Western culture (including all aspects of organisations); the need for organisations to be concerned with gender, reproduction and sexuality; the use of sexuality by men in organisational positions of leadership to sustain and reinforce their power; sexuality as an important means of control in the interface with workers and clients (Hearn, Sheppard, Tancred-Sheriff & Burrell 1989).

Research in this area attempts to show that women’s experience is contrary to the claim by organisational theorists that work and sex can remain separated; although sexuality, eroticism and sometimes even violence are not acknowledged as part of the rational hierarchy of formal organisations, they are, nonetheless, deeply embedded within it. Gender and sexuality in organisations have been shown to have implications far beyond any straightforward equal opportunity issues (Gutek 1985,1989; Abbey, Cozzorelli, McLaughlin & Harnish 1987; Collinson & Collinson 1989; Di Tomaso 1989; Hall 1989; Devine & Markiewicz 1990; Lewis & Morgan 1994). It seems that if women are to participate in and exercise leadership as part of the male-defined organisational world their sexual identity has to be transformed somehow through their strategising in order to control others’ perceptions of them as sexual persons (Sheppard 1989, p. 156). Pringle (1989, p. 177) emphasises that the solution is not to banish sexuality from the workplace, but rather:

what needs to be challenged is the way it is treated as an intruder, for this is the basis of the negative representation of women/sexuality/secretaries. It is by making it visible, exposing the masculinity that lurks behind gender neutrality, asserting women’s rights to be subjects rather than objects of sexual discourses, that bureaucracy can be challenged. The emphasis needs to be on processes of change rather than ‘correct’ or ‘incorrect’ practices.

There needs to be ongoing research within this component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership. The literature within this component is not constrained within outmoded hierarchical or bureaucratic boundaries, and offers a serious critique of the patriarchal and bureaucratic organisational structures and processes which are the context for and the focus of much leadership in Western societies. Findings such as those of Sheppard (1989) demonstrate that women’s experience of leadership differs from that of men and suggest that there is, therefore, value in exploring the experience of leadership in women’s organisations, a suggestion that has been taken up by this thesis.

The fourth component of the Women in Management agenda for leadership focuses on the encounters of modern feminism with organisational practice, and raises questions about what constitutes a feminist organisation and about the organisational styles, including leadership, of feminist organisations. Ferguson argues that, by definition, a feminist organisation is one that values and seeks to implement at least some forms of egalitarianism, participation and inclusivity (Ferguson 1984). While not all organisations that display these values and characteristics are feminist organisations, all feminist organisations need to exhibit these qualities. Ferguson describes a bureaucracy as the clearest example of a male-dominant style of organisational life, and identifies the ways in which bureaucracies operate to keep women submissive (Ferguson 1984).

Martin (1990, p. 184-185) describes a feminist organisation as one that espouses feminist goals and values, and implies that it is an organisation’s purposes rather than its structures or processes that determine whether or not an organisation is feminist. This would mean that there could well be organisations which adopt a bureaucratic, hierarchical organisational style who call themselves feminist. Researchers such as Morgen (1986) and Acker (1990) who have carried out studies of organisations such as rape crisis centres and women’s health clinics have argued that feminist organisations must ‘oppose patriarchal standards through their alternative, anti-hierarchical organisational strategies’ (Farrell 1994, p. 710).

There has been a variety of research within this framework of the women in management literature. Much of it is research that examines and critiques bureaucracy. Some have examined the ways in which bureaucracies institutionalise inequalities based not only on gender, but also on class and race (Ferguson 1984; Morgen 1986; Acker 1990). Others focus on the evaluation of feminist attempts to create alternative organisational practices (Morgen 1986; Martin 1990; Hyde 1994), including the inherent tensions (Farrell 1994; Reinelt 1994). Morgen (1994) explores ‘how feminist organizations, like some other collectivist-democratic organisations, contest the ideal of impersonal, role based, and instrumental social relations characteristic of bureaucracy’ (Morgen 1994, p. 666). Her research illustrates that ‘bureaucratic assumptions and practices often co-exist with counterbureaucratic assumptions and ideals in the actual practices of these organisations although participants rarely acknowledge that this is so’ (Morgen 1994, p. 676).

Something Old, Something New

The Women in Management agenda for leadership is contained in a body of literature that is comprehensive and varied. This agenda is, seemingly, one which describes ‘the subversion of management and leadership to a style more congruent with women’s values’ (Pringle & Timperley 1995, p. 169). It is interesting to note, however, as Gherardi (1994, p. 595) points out, that:

if one consults the literature on women in management much of it could be translated into a manual on how women can fit in with management and the organization cultural assimilation that formally acknowledges equality but in practice denies the diversity of gender.

Such a critique highlights the limitations of the first two components of the Women in Management agenda for leadership - those of inequities in work settings and gender as a variable. These components provide reasons for women’s exclusion from organisational leadership based on an understanding of gender that is either implicitly essentialist (inequities in work practices component) or explicitly essentialist (gender as a variable component). Gender is understood as a quality or trait or fundamental attribute that is internal and separate from the ongoing experiences of interaction with the contexts of life. Bohan (1993) has clearly outlined the problems and limitations of an essentialist understanding of gender. For example, one of the problems is that essentialism leads to making universal assumptions; when we say that women exercise leadership differently from men, which women do we mean? We cannot presume that all women are different or are different in the same way. An essentialist understanding of gender supports the assumptions that organisation processes and cultures are gender neutral and that barriers to women’s advancement in leadership roles in organisations are caused by gender difference. Women’s experience of marginalisation and oppression becomes a result of qualities within themselves instead of reflecting the social structures that shape their lives. These two components of the Women in Management agenda for leadership offer no real challenge to the understanding of leadership within the mechanistic world view - indeed, they divert attention away from the patriarchal system of governance which supports bureaucratic-managerial understandings and practices of leadership by focusing on women’s struggle to insert themselves into that patriarchal system of governance.

The last two components of the Women in Management agenda for leadership are located in a literature that explores the gendered masculine nature of organisational processes and cultures and the organisational styles of feminist organisations. These components of the Women in Management agenda for leadership offer a serious critique of a patriarchal and bureaucratic system of governance and shift the locus of the problem from women and their struggles to systems and structures that continue to support a bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership. They not only offer some ways of analysing and attending to women’s exclusion from leadership positions, but also of breaking the nexus between the individual and power as a personal possession acquired through particular traits or positions.

The Women in Management agenda that emerges in the Women in Management literature and research is necessary but not sufficient for bringing about a changing understanding of leadership that is able to respond to the challenges of a holistic world view. The review of this literature suggests that there needs to be further exploration of the conditions that are necessary to exercise leadership untrammelled by those structures and processes that reinforce the gendered hierarchies of power.

3.4 Conclusion

Research studies are a small proportion of the total writings on the topic of leadership, and inconsistent research results reflect the complexity of a topic which is made to bear the weight of impossible expectations. What is consistent in the leadership literature is the emphasis on the bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership as described in Chapter 2 of this thesis. The dominant images of leadership and the dominant agendas for leadership that have been reviewed in the literature present an understanding of leadership that is personalistic, hierarchical, goal-centred, quantitative, management-oriented, reductionist and functional. The bureaucratic-managerial model of leadership which emerges in the dominant images of and agendas for leadership in the literature promotes an ongoing quest for greater productivity, greater efficiency and greater profits and produces a wide variety of techniques and packages to guide this search - continuous improvement, total quality management, total quality control, empowerment, and quality assurance. The importance and the impact of this understanding of leadership is not in question; there is the almost universal acceptance of management and the values of managerialism as indispensable, not only in organisations, but also in society as a whole. However, as was shown in Chapter 2 of this thesis, this understanding of leadership is inadequate for societies and organisations that are more and more confronted by an emerging holistic world view.

The review of literature through an analysis of the dominant images of and agendas for leadership raises a number of issues about leadership that must be addressed if new understandings and practices of leadership are to develop that are more suited to the holistic world view described in Chapter 2 of this thesis. These issues include the need to break the nexus between leadership and a single person or position; the need to abandon a positional reference to who are leaders and who are followers and to explore leadership as a field of interaction created when designated leaders and active followers together exercise responsibility and generate leadership power; the need to explore conceptions of power beyond its being the possession of an individual leader and beyond the concepts of dominance and subordination to its being a reality that is generated by the interaction of leaders and followers in the leadership relationship (Onyx 1994; Block 1996; Rosen 1996); the need to explore whether organisations are able to include among their purposes wider perspectives such as a commitment to being socially responsible and socially sustainable.

This research intends to explore the research problem within the relatively neglected research area of women’s leadership in community-profit organisations as a possible context for new understandings and practices of leadership beyond those of the bureaucratic-managerial model which dominate the relevant literature. Some key research questions that arise from the review of the literature and which lead to the clarification and further exploration of the research problem outlined in Section 1.2 of the thesis are:

The next chapter will outline the methodology which underpins the considerations of the research questions by exploring women’s experiences of leadership in community-profit organisations. The perspective which frames the research and the assumptions which underlie the choice of methods used to conduct the research are explicitly identified and outlined.

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