An application of configurational theory to compare CEO leadership styles in entrepreneurial organizations

2001 2001

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Abstract (summary)

During the past two decades, interest in entrepreneurial firms has increased dramatically. One of the most widely studied aspects of entrepreneurship is CEO leadership style. Traditionally, leadership research has relied on micro variables such as leader/member relations, subordinate readiness, or task complexity to explain leadership style. While such research is plentiful, several reviews have shown that there exists a morass of contradictory and inconclusive findings (Klenke, 1993).

In response some leadership scholars have called for more emphasis on a macro orientation (e.g., Waldman & Yammarino, 1999), though there has been limited empirical investigation to date. A key problem with integrating macro variables to examine leadership is that debates of causality are widespread in the organization theory literature. To mitigate this problem, the proposed research adopts the configuration approach (Miller & Friesen, 1983). The underlying assumption of the configuration approach is that organizations can be classified into a finite collection of sub-groupings based on their design and contextual characteristics.

This study compared CEO leadership patterns in two configurations: the simple bureaucracy and entrepreneurial adhocracy (Mintzberg, 1983). The consumer banking and software development industries were used to represent the simple bureaucracy (consumer banking) and the entrepreneurial adhocracy (software development) configurations. Two pretests indicated that these industries match the contextual and structural characteristics identified by Mintzberg. First, semi-structured interviews were conducted with an upper executive in each industry. Second, a manipulation check was included on the mailed survey to assess the two samples quantitatively.

Participants in this study included upper-echelon managers. These individuals described their CEOs according to Manz and Sims's (1991) typology, which is comprised of four broad leadership types: the strongman, transactor, visionary, and SuperLeader. Data were received from 71 software firms and 97 banks.

Four hypotheses were tested. The first two predicted that the strongman and transactor archetypes would be more prevalent in simple bureaucracies than in entrepreneurial adhocracies. Hypotheses three and four predicted that CEOs in entrepreneurial adhocracies would have higher visionary leadership and SuperLeadership ratings than in simple bureaucracies. Multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) indicated that only a single sub-dimension (instruction and command under the strongman archetype) was significantly different. Based on the results of this study, it appears that the leadership profiles in both configurations were virtually identical.

Indexing (details)

Comparative analysis;
Chief executive officers;
Management styles
0454: Management
Identifier / keyword
Social sciences; CEO; Configurational theory; Entrepreneurial; Leadership; Organizations
An application of configurational theory to compare CEO leadership styles in entrepreneurial organizations
Grinnell, James Paul
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 62/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
9780493083544, 0493083545
Butterfield, Anthony
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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