Leadership research

Leadership as Societal Interface Management

Effective societal interface management requires effective leadership. Leadership refers to the trade-off between more or less managerial control and the ability of individuals to influence a group to realise a given objective. Whereas managers try to ensure that people do things, leaders for isntance ensure that people want to do things. Most leaders are good managers, but good managers are not always good leaders. Leadership styles have generally evolved from autocratic, to more democratic, consultative, motivating, participative leaders or a more permissive style characterized as laissez-fair. At the moment more moral and visionary leadership styles seem to prevail, which is an indication of the growing attention of leaders towards the issue of (corporate) social responsibilities. In the book “International business-society management” (Van Tulder with Van der Zwart, 2006) it was suggested that the four different approaches towards (corporate) responsibility also relate to four different types of leadership:

• In-active CSR is associated with Transactional and Team leadership
• Re-active CSR involves often Charismatic leadership
• Active CSR requires Visionary and Moral leaders
• Pro-active CSR involves Transformational Leadership

Whether this idea holds under all circumstances and with regard to all types of organizations, is a matter for further and detailed research. One of the questions that can be posed is whether leadership styles depend upon the background of leaders: where do they come from and how does this affect their behavior. This question has become the starter question for a research project on leadership in International Business-Society Management in the 21st century. The preliminary research results are referred to occasionally in the basic book (for instance in box 1.1 in Chapter 1 and box 20.4 in chapter 20). The leadership research project looks at the origins of leaders in all three spheres of society: (1) business leaders (market), (2) government leaders (state), (3) civic leaders (civil society). Who are today’s leaders? Where do they come from? How long have they operated in any of the other spheres of society? To what extent is the business sector more autistic then the state sector when looking at the career paths of their leaders? What have they studied? What were their career decisions? Do they have international experience?

The leadership project has resulted in a number of datasets and M.A. theses. You are invited to join these research projects and add your own data and analysis to the existing project.

Further information on this project:

• Leadership and CSR: a general statement – pdf file
• A Methodology paper – pdf file
• Business leader profiles, 1990-2002 – pdf file
• State leader profiles, 1990 – 2000 – pdf file