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The Ambiguity of Leadership - Jeffrey Pfeffer

Leadership and Organizational Change

My article entitles: The Ambiguity of Leadership and it is from Jeffrey Pfeffer. This review consists in three parts. First of all, Ill purpose a short summary. Then, Ill give an analysis of how it is connected with the course contents and the course literature. Finally, I will do my personal assessment. This article is divided in 6 parts which address three major leaderships issues: (1) the ambiguity of its definition and measurement; (2) the question of whether it affects organizational performance; and (3) the process of selecting leaders and leadership as individual social actors. The introduction, first part, mentions the papers purpose and majors issues. The second, Ambiguity of the Concept, is focused on the first major issue. Preview studies on the dimensions and definitions of leadership concept are mentioned. All of them seem to have an agreement relating leadership to social influence. The same is not true to the basic dimensions of leadership behaviours, examples of dimensions are: group maintenance, task accomplishment, closeness to supervision, and so on. The third part, The Effects of Leaders, is an attempt to answer to the question Is there any evidence on the magnitude of effects of leadership?. Based on several studies, this part is subdivided in four parts, shows the reasons why it might be argued that the observed leaders effects on organizational outcome would be small and few studies that sustaining the idea: Homogeneity of Leaders ( as leadership positions are selected, limited styles may be chosen); Constraints of Behaviour (situational characteristic constrain leadership behaviour); External Factors ( Leaders can only affect few of the variables that may impact organizational performance) and Empirical Evidence. In the fourth part, The Process of Selecting Leaders, the process and criteria of choosing leaders are approached through some studies. These studies showed that frequently the process emphasizes person-based (such as social status) and organizationally-irrelevant criteria. The fifth part, The Attribution of Leadership, describe the individual trend to develop attributions that give them a feeling of control. Thus, lodging in a leader causality of organization, rather than in a set of complex contextual factors, make easier to overcome the possible problems. The need to believe in leadership influence on performance make leaders become symbols (providing a scapegoat when things go wrong). Differences between causality perceived by internal members or outsiders are approached too. In the last part, Conclusion, the main ideas are summarized: (1) analysis results depends on the researchers intent (which cause ambiguity of the definition and measurement); (2) Concerning to Leaders effect, no conclusive answer was reached, evidences of the importance of the interaction between situational factors and leaders characteristics start to appear; (3) Leadership is associated with a set of myths that reinforce a social construction of leaders, providing belief in the effectiveness of individual control. This article is mainly connected with the course literature. The first link refers to the definition of leadership and its importance, which also is approached in the books Chapter 1(Leadership and its importance). The second link can be found in the study of leadership effectiveness (e.g.: influence of situational factors) in the paper and the Basic Leadership Concepts and Issues chapter. Some studies mentioned in the paper (such as Fiedlers contingency theory) are also present in the book. This paper is for me as well structured and substantiated. All the issues approached are sustained by several researches. The conclusions found are also interesting. However this article is quite old and the majority of extents are, nowadays more clear (as the factors that influence the leadership effectiveness), we can see that some other points (such as the attribution of leadership) are still actual. At last, I want to say that this kind of analysis are, in my opinion, excellent opportunities to apply and reinforce the theoretical notions acquired through the courses book, and to get familiarized with academic articles. 1