The black box of leadership: Et studie af udviklingen i forståelsen af ledelse fra Scientific Management til Complex Responsive Processes

Julie Bilenberg Larsen & Julie Schrøder Poulsen

Student thesis: Master thesis

Abstract

Leadership is a topic given much attention today. It is, however, difficult to say what leadership actually is. This study examines how the understanding of leadership has developed from Taylor’s scientific management to Stacey’s complex responsive processes. It further examines how power as conceptualized in Foucault’s Discipline and Punish can be used to illustrate this development. I relation to this we formed a research assumption regarding how power has developed from being an external to an internal control mechanism, respectively controlling the body and the mind. In order to examine the above we conducted a content analysis, which served as our overall method in understanding how our leadership theories conceptualized leadership and power. We further used grounded theory as a specific method to structure our coding process, which enabled us to secure transparency throughout our thesis. It has become evident that there are some key differences between the two leadership theories in relation to understanding the aspects of both leadership and power. Power is used as a way of theorizing leadership and thereby understanding how power is a fundamental part of leadership. We have identified a change in the understanding of leadership from being considered a specific concept to a more abstract phenomenon. This change can be seen as a consequence of diverging scientific paradigms between our two leadership theories and the assumptions these are based on. This also reflects a change in the understanding of science, which varies from scientific management and functionalism to complex responsive processes and social constructivism. Furthermore, we were able to point out a change in the focus of power given the way discipline is exercised has changed from being concerned with the body to controlling the mind. The disciplinary power in scientific management functions through a constant correction of the workers’ bodies and movements, whereas in complex responsive processes the disciplinary power becomes a self-disciplinary control where the power is internalized, which the employee continues to reinforce.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
LanguageDanish
Publication date2014
Number of pages102