Leadership in Organizations

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© National College for School Leadership 2003
Leadership in Organizations
Gary Yukl
2001, Prentice Hall
Gary Yukl is Professor of Management and Leadership at the State University of New York in Albany, and a board member of the Leadership Quarterly journal. He is a well-known scholar and author on leadership. Leadership in Organizations was first published in 1981. This fifth edition was published in 2002, and the formerly 19 chapters have been consolidated into 15 (which includes a new chapter on ethical leadership and diversity). This has been done in order to accommodate a 15-week course.

Each chapter covers a particular aspect of leadership research study, with a concluding summary and questions for further discussion. Key terms are highlighted, and there is at least one case study at the end of each chapter. The book is accompanied by an instructor’s manual which is used in conjunction with the case studies and also contains exercises and role-playing activities. The 508 pages of Leadership in Organizations include an extensive references section.

Leadership in Organizations has a specific focus on managerial leadership in large organisations and is an attempt at bridging the gulf between academics and management practitioners. However, as each chapter begins with a list of learning objectives, the bias appears to tend towards a more academic audience (particularly students of the subject), rather than towards practising managers.

The author covers a broad survey of theory and research of leadership in formal organisations of the last 50 years, and though Yukl states that the book “focuses on the 20 per cent of literature that appeared to be the most relevant and informative”, he has provided an in-depth and comprehensive analysis and appraisal of that literature in a clear and moderately accessible language. From the first, introductory, chapter about the nature of leadership, Yukl writes what is essentially an academic text, but with a clarity accessible to a practising manager with a serious interest in the subject area.

The research approaches are broadly outlined in terms of the characteristics of a leader, a follower, and the situation. The research theories have been classified into the five approaches of trait, behaviour, power-influence, situational and integrative, which are further conceptualised as intra-individual, dyadic, group and organisational processes. Yukl looks at each of the research theories on the basis of a continuum covering the following distinctions: leader- versus follower-centred, descriptive versus prescriptive, and universal versus contingency (situational).

The focus throughout is on leadership in large organisations, which means that many of the research areas studied include the leadership roles undertaken by those in managerial positions © National College for School Leadership 2003

in all levels of an organisation and not just those at the top of the organisation. The nature and roles of managerial work are covered in Chapter 2.
Effective leadership, participation and empowerment
Extensive research has been undertaken on leadership behaviour since the 1950s. This has divided into three areas: task-oriented, relation-oriented and participative leadership. The thousands of studies undertaken over this 50-year period, mostly through questionnaires, has given rise to a number of taxonomies which Yukl proposes might be refined into the three jointly inter-reacting categories of task-, relations- and change-oriented behaviours. On looking at the fields of study covering participative leadership, delegation and empowerment, the author again examines the research and looks closely at the Vroom-Yetton model of participative leadership developed in the 1970s. This helps managers identify decision procedures in different situations. Throughout the book, Yukl evaluates this research and provides examples, tables, models...
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