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Dissertation Research Proposal:Leadership & Management

浏览: 日期:2018-12-21

Leadership: Nature vs. Nurture

What role does leadership education have in developing leaders?*

 

 

Dissertation Research Proposal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Working Title

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS                                                          PAGE

Research Question and Objectives ................................................................................................ 1

Methodology ................................................................................................................................. 2

         Primary Data via Auto/Biography Review ................................................................................ 2

         Primary Data via Semi-Structured Interviews .......................................................................... 2

         Secondary Data – University Program Syllabi Comparison ...................................................... 3

         Secondary Data – Education Reports ....................................................................................... 4

Literature Review .......................................................................................................................... 4

         Leadership Theory .................................................................................................................... 4

         Leadership Cannot Be Taught .................................................................................................. 5

         Leadership Can Be Learned ...................................................................................................... 5

         Leadership Can Be Taught ........................................................................................................ 6

         Pedagogy of Leadership ........................................................................................................... 6

Limitations .................................................................................................................................... 8

Timeline ........................................................................................................................................ 9

References  and Additional Reading ............................................................................................ 10

*Attached: 2 Dissertation Supervisor Meeting Record Sheets

RESEARCH QUESTION AND OBJECTIVES

In 1998, McCauley, Moxley, and Van Velsor from the Center for Creative Leadership defined leadership development as “the expansion of an individual’s capacity to be effective in leadership roles and processes.”  The question explored in this study is what role does this leadership development education have in developing leaders?  The potential answers to this question will be examined by the following objectives:

Working Objectives

1.       Review literature of theories of leadership and the teaching of leadership, and identify factors contributing to a leader’s development;

 

2.       Compare curriculum currently used by leadership programs at universities to analyze potential disparities between identified contributing factors and program offerings;

 

3.       Develop a conceptual framework for a leadership program to offer recommendations for strategies for instruction; and

 

4.       Test the conceptual framework through analysis of the data gathered.

This research is exploratory and will result in the output of a conceptual framework to make recommendations to the pedagogy of leadership.

The research question posed stems from a subject matter ingrained in a debate of whether or not leadership can be taught.  However, simultaneously, a call for leaders in most areas of business, and society in general, is getting louder each year.  Warren Bennis (2003) states,

“One thing we know is that a more dangerous world makes the need for leadership, in every organization, in every institution, more pressing than ever.”

 

How, then, does this leadership come into existence?  Numerous theories of what the make-up of leadership is exist resulting in various factors to which people attribute their success.  Northouse (2010) agrees leadership is needed but offers one possible factor,

“Corporations seek those with leadership ability because they believe they bring special assets to their organizations and, ultimately, improve the bottom line.  Academic institutions throughout the country [US] have responded by providing programs in leadership studies.”

The entry and increasing number of leadership development programs at universities support the argument leadership can be taught and learned.  Various programs have been created, many as a minor or emphasis to a degree, but some as a degree (Bachelors, Masters, and Doctorates) in itself.  In the US alone, there are at least 90[1] curriculum-based leadership study programs at universities.  This influx may be from the business world’s call for leaders and from universities’ acknowledgement they are responsible in developing productive citizens of society, as evidenced by their mission statements. 

 

METHODOLOGY

To explore the research objectives the following methods will be used to gather information. 

 

Primary Data via Auto/Biography Review

A number of well-known leaders, in various industries, have written books, or had books written, about the pathways to their positions.  Examples of auto/biographies are: Richard Branson, Steve Jobs (biography), Martha Stewart (biography), Rudolph Guiliani.  It is from these leader’s accounts, and the theory, the factors contributing to a leader’s success will be identified (Objective 1).  A selection of these books will result in a data display of factors identified leading to their role or position of leadership, their information may be analyzed quantitatively and represented in charts. Data is anticipated to result in recognition of themes to build questions for the semi-structured interviews and develop the conceptual model. 

 

Primary Data via Semi-Structured Interviews

The interviews serve as a mechanism to test the identified factors from secondary data and a review of the theory (Objective 4).  It will also balance the auto/biographies of leaders who are one extreme of the success scale, as the interviewees will vary in their current level of position and role in the leadership process.  This exploratory study will benefit from the use of semi-structured interviews allowing flexibility in the questions posed to different respondents while attempting to seek new insights into the efficacy of their leadership education.

“Semi-structured…interviews provide…the opportunity to ‘probe’ answers, where you want the interviewees to explain, or build on, their responses” (Saunders et al., 2007:315). 

 

Open-ended questions are more appropriate for this study due to the personal and reflective nature of the topic.  Based on the researcher’s knowledge and contacts, individuals will be selected based on their recent participation or teaching of a leadership program at a university.

Analysis of Semi-Structured Interviews

Since there is “no standardised approach to the analysis of qualitative data” (Saunders et al., 2007:478) there are a couple of methods which may be employed after some knowledge is gained on the amount and kind of information these interviews will produce.  These methods may include ‘narrative analysis’ and ‘content analysis’ to find repetitive key terms and patterns in responses.  Due to the small number of interviews, analysis will be conducted manually.  Transcripts of interviews will provide a detailed record to identify themes among the answers. 

 

Secondary Data - University Program Syllabi Comparison

A request for detailed syllabi of ten university post-graduate leadership study programs will be made (Objective 2).  Post-graduate programs are being targeted due to the lack of current research on this particular demographic.  Side-by-side comparisons will be employed with all the syllabi received.  Similarities in the curriculum will be extrapolated and incorporated into the conceptual framework (Objective 3), in a ‘best practices’ type approach.  Differences will be examined to explore possible reasons why one or two programs use one method of instruction and others do not, or why nine use one theoretical framework but one does not and the like. 

 

Secondary Data – Education Reports

Reports with studies conducted to evidence the efficacy of higher education, such as the 2009 BIS report, Higher Ambitions will also be analyzed.  Data from this study, and others, will be used to evidence education’s impact to a person’s post-education experiences to aid in the development of a model (Objective 4).

 

LITERATURE REVIEW

Reviewing literature on leadership quickly reveals a long-standing debate on whether or not people are born or made leaders, leading to a sub-debate of whether or not leadership can be taught.  Elmuti, Minnis and Abebe (2005) write,

“Although many scholars and researchers agree that leadership is both a skill and a behavior that exhibits that skill, the argument on whether leadership can be effectively taught still remains as one of the most debatable leadership question (sic) in our times.” 

 

Those who say leadership can be taught and those who say it cannot present a significant gap resulting in theories of support on both sides.  Theories have been based on traits, situations, behaviors, and combinations of all and more. 

 

Leadership Theory

The theories of leadership can be charted on a timeline based on their introduction into the academic realm.  One of the first is “the great man theory,” which is the epitome of the ‘leaders are born’ argument credited to Thomas Carlyle in 1841 (Allio, 2009), then trait theory - mainly popular in the 1960s to early 1970s, to behavior theories supposing leadership is based on learned behavior, arriving in the 1960s as well.  Newer age theories include participative leadership, transactional and transformational leadership and servant leadership.  Exacerbating the question of leader’s skill are continual examples in society representing all the theories. There are leaders who have not had formal leadership education who excel in their leadership position, and equally are people in society who have extensive leadership development who also excel and credit their leadership program.

Leadership Cannot Be Taught

Practitioners from the school that leadership cannot be taught would agree that a classroom is not going to make a difference in a person’s success as a leader.  Allio (2005) says,

“I propose that effective leadership requires character, creativity, and compassion, core qualities or traits that cannot be acquired cognitively … there is little evidence that any course or program produces better leaders.”

 

Allio is adamant leadership cannot be taught outright and there is little merit to development programs.  Ackoff (2005) agrees with Allio, stating, “Leaders can no more be created than artists.  Both require talent and talent is not transmittable.”  However, other academics are less extreme but still contend leadership is not just about the skills which may be able to be developed from a course.  Bennis (2003) states, “…Leadership courses can only teach skills.  They can’t teach character or vision …” (p. 34).  Bennis, a professor himself, does not condemn the ability to teach skills, but supposes leadership is more than the possession of skills, it is about personality that cannot be learned and experiences which cannot be practiced in a classroom. 

 

Leadership Can Be Learned

Moving more towards the middle of the spectrum of this debate, McCauley and Van Velsor (2004) state (as cited in Elmuti et al., 2005),

“Leadership capacity has its roots partly in genetics, partly in early childhood development, and partly in adult experience.”

 

This introduces the idea that leadership is a generation of personal characteristics and the environment in which those characteristics meet situations. 

All the arguments that leadership cannot be taught does not exclusively mean the behaviors cannot be learned.  Allio (2009) states, “The reality is that leadership theory and principles can be taught, but leadership behavior must be learned.”  Already in reviewing curriculum of leadership programs, many incorporate an experiential element either through a project, internship, or role-playing activity.  So even though a number of scholars state leadership cannot be taught there is room for learning leadership behaviors through experience.  What, then, can development programs at universities do to integrate this learnable element into their curriculum?

 

Leadership Can Be Taught

Other scholars and researchers fully contend leadership can be taught.  Connaughton, Lawrence, and Ruben (2003) state,

“Leadership competencies do not develop automatically as a consequence of having particular cognitive capabilities or disciplinary expertise…the requisite knowledge and skills for leadership can be taught.”

 

A NASPA, the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, article from 2008, on the importance of student leadership development programs asserts a number of the leadership programs follow Maxwell’s (2005) philosophy that leadership “can be learned through motivation and training, and only a few leadership skills are innate.”  Furthermore, “leadership programs serve society and the individual in multiple ways” (Freeman and Goldin, NASPA, 2008) encouraging the creation of more programs at universities to support the development of an individual’s knowledge and skills in the discipline of leadership.

 

Pedagogy of Leadership

A possible solution to this debate comes from literature supporting leadership can be taught (Doh, 2003), however, the method(s) of instruction may be the paramount factor. 

Connaughton et al. (2003) state,

“…leadership competencies are best developed over time through a program that fosters personalized integration of theory and practice and that conceives of leadership development as a recursive and reflective process.”

 

Where, then, can these programs be carried out?  Many companies are now creating leadership development programs (e.g., Johnson and Johnson, GE’s Crontonville Center, McDonalds’s Hamburger University), however, these are for people already employed at the companies with perceived potential to perform well higher within the company’s management system. 

The other locations these programs have been created are in institutions of higher education.  Zimmerman-Oster and Burkhardt (1999) state, “…leadership potential exists in every student, and colleges and universities can develop this potential through leadership programs and activities” (as cited in Eich, 2008). 

The Council for the Advancement of Standards (2003; as cited in Eich, 2008) says,

University mission statements reflect the value placed on educating citizens who can engage successfully in the leadership process and contribute to the growth of our society.”

 

Connaughton et al. (2003) agree, stating, “…colleges and universities have a fundamental responsibility to guide the development of the next generation of capable and ethical leaders ….”  By having students engage in leadership programs and studies in their undergraduate or post-graduate/experience programs, universities can potentially provide developed leaders to professions, and society, catering to the need for leaders in business and other industries.  Graduating students with even just a foundation in leadership can enhance the individual’s employability and eventual productivity for their employers.  This begins to question, what type of education is effective at teaching this leadership?  Eich (2008) states,

“Kolb’s (1984) experiential learning model is a practical pedagogy for teaching students how to engage in the leadership process through constructing meaning and making connections between their own experiences and reflection.”

 

Is it essential for students to have experience to participate in these programs?  Will this be evidenced in the primary and secondary data gathered in this study, and therefore a necessary element of the conceptual framework?

The University of Exeter Centre for Leadership Studies Leadership South West Research Report 2 (2005) states, “With the multitude of ways in which leadership and leadership development can be conceived and the many purposes they serve it is not surprising that a wide array of development approaches and techniques have evolved.” 

This sampling of literature introduces some of the evidence of a gap in the published academic literature and justifies the need for further exploration into the research topic.

 

LIMITATIONS

The overall breadth of the topic of leadership necessitates time intensive deliberation of what information is and is not relevant to this study.  The time and funds available will limit the amount of primary and secondary data collected and analyzed, as well as limits the feasibility of travelling for in-person collection of information. 

Information gathered from literature sources and secondary data are subject to the authenticity and intent of the author(s), and their own study limitations. 

Interviewees are subject to bias, for example, the knowledge gained from their leadership program may conflict with their overall experience of participation.  This could affect the way in which participants reflect on the efficacy of the curriculum.  Interviews may be conducted via phone or video conference limiting non-verbal communication analysis and imposing any technological limitations.

Careful attention to these limitations will be paid to mitigate their impact.

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