The Leadership Quarterly Essay

12152 Words49 Pages
The Leadership Quarterly 17 (2006) 559 – 576

Leadership and the organizational context: Like the weather? ☆
Lyman W. Porter ⁎, Grace B. McLaughlin 1
The Paul Merage School of Business, University of California–Irvine, Irvine, CA 92697-3125, USA

Abstract This article reviews the leadership literature from 1990–2005 in twenty-one major journals in order to determine the nature and extent of attention to the organizational context as a factor affecting leaders' behavior and their effectiveness. Both conceptual and empirical articles were rated as having “moderate/strong,” “slight,” or “no” emphasis on the organizational context. Those articles classified in the moderate/strong category were analyzed
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Among those making this point are the following: • Tosi (in an article entitled “The organization as a context for leadership theory: A multilevel approach”): “Current [leadership] theory and research – which, we argue, is interpersonal and dyadic – in most cases may be near the limits of utility” (Tosi, 1991, p. 227). • Shamir and Howell: “The study of leadership needs to reflect not only leaders' personal characteristics and behaviors but also the situational factors which influence leadership emergence and effectiveness” (Shamir & Howell, 1999, p. 279). • Boal and Hooijberg: “Many of the new theories of leadership appear context free. That is, they do not consider how environmental and organizational context influence the process” (Boal & Hooijberg, 2000, p. 528). • Osborn, Hunt, and Jauch: “The purpose of this article is to explore a neglected side of leadership. The underlying idea is quite simple. Leadership and its effectiveness, in large part, are dependent upon the context. Change the context and leadership changes…” (Osborn, Hunt, & Jauch, 2002, p. 797); “Hence, ‘leadership’ is an emerging social construction embedded in a unique organization — it is contextual leadership” (p. 832). • “The context in which leadership is enacted has not received much attention” (Antonakis et al., 2004). Clearly, a number of
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