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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transformational leadership styles of organizational social network leaders as observed by fully employed Pepperdine business and leadership students
by Furlong, Eric Hilary, Ed.D., Pepperdine University, 2011, 165; 3487433
Abstract (Summary)

Of the mechanisms that organizations embrace to find a competitive advantage in post-bureaucratic environments, one of the more common is to allow the emergence of informal networks in which individuals work together regardless of the formal scope of their responsibilities. As these networks emerge, so do leaders within them.

To date, there has been almost no research on the leadership behaviors of emergent network leaders. However, that has not stopped many thinkers on the topics of leadership and organizational theory from assigning behaviors to them. Avolio, Bass, and others have assigned transformational leadership to these leaders; and such assignments seem defendable given the nature of transformational leadership and the dynamics of emergent networks.

This exploratory study set out to address this void. Specifically, it explores the transformational, transactional, and Laissez-faire leadership behaviors displayed by a select sample of leaders, and then compares them to the general population of formally established leaders. The results of this study show that in general, the emergent network leaders sampled are judged to be essentially no different than the general population of leaders. But in taking a closer look at the results, very high degrees of variation between subjects' scores reveal some interesting patterns; one of these being that a subset of the subject sample proved to be significantly more transformational than formal leaders in a few important categories. Further research is needed to find the commonalities of these exceptionally transformational leaders, and what separates them from their peers and formal leaders alike.

In the meantime, this research points to other important conclusions, one of the more significant being that the assumption that leaders of emergent networks will be, by default, highly transformational might be an overgeneralization. The sample used in this study turned out not to be. Organizations seeking to leverage the competitive advantage emergent networks can deliver should not take the emergence of transformational leadership of these networks as a given. Instead, the formal leaders of organizations might want to walk the fine line of allowing these networks to emerge organically while ensuring the materialization of transformational behaviors of these networks' leaders.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Allen, Mark
Commitee: Leigh, Doug, Rhodes, Kent
School: Pepperdine University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/03, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Behavioral psychology, Management
Keywords: Emergent networks, Post-bureaucratic, Social networks, Transformational leadership
Publication Number: 3487433
ISBN: 978-1-267-06699-2
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