Leadership Theory

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Leadership Theory and Administrative Behavior: The Problem of Authority Author(s): Warren G. Bennis Reviewed work(s): Source: Administrative Science Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Dec., 1959), pp. 259-301 Published by: Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2390911 . Accessed: 03/04/2012 22:56 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.

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G. Warren Bennis

Leadership and The

Theory

Administrative Behavior:

Problem

of

Authority

The problem of authority has been selected as the critical dimension through which various theories and practices of organizational behavior are expressed. Following a discussion of the confusions and lacunae in leadership theory, a review of philosophies, ideologies, and practices is presented that identifies two major movements: the traditional theorists and the human relations proponents. Some attention is given to the contemporary revisions and models that endeavor to ameliorate the tensions between the aforementioned movements. Finally, an explication of leadership is presented that attempts to account for the efficacy of certain leadership propositions with respect to a priori criteria of organizational effectiveness.1 Warren G. Bennis is associate professor of industrial management in the School of Industrial Management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

OF all the hazy and confounding areas in social psychology, leadership theory undoubtedly contends for top nomination. And, ironically, probably more has been written and less is known about 'This paper was prepared especially for presentation at the Administrative Science Center, University of Pittsburgh, April 22-23, 1959. A debt of gratitude should be expressed to the Center, and particularly to Professor James Thompson.

260

ADMINISTRATIVE

SCIENCE

QUARTERLY

leadership than about any other topic in the behavioral sciences. Always, it seems, the concept of leadership eludes us or turns up in another form to taunt us again with its slipperiness and complexity. So we have invented an endless proliferation of terms to deal with it: leadership, power, status, authority, rank, prestige, influence, control, manipulation, domination, and so forth, and still the concept is not sufficiently defined. As we survey the path leadership theory has taken, we spot the wreckage of "trait theory," the "great man" theory, the "situationist critique," leadership styles, functional leadership, and finally, leaderless leadership; to say nothing of bureaucratic leadership, charismatic leadership, democratic-autocratic-laissez-faire leadership, group-centered leadership, reality-centered leadership, leadership by objective, and so on. The dialectic and reversals of emphases in this area very nearly rival the tortuous twists and turns of child-rearing practices, and one can paraphrase Gertrude Stein by saying," a leader is a follower is a leader". The lack of consensus in this whole area of leadership and authority cannot be blamed on a reluctance by social scientists to engage in empirical research on projects related to these topics. In fact, the problem is not so much that there is so little evidence, but that the mountain of evidence which is available appears to be so contradictory,2 and some of the theorists have radically...
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