Author

Beth Allen

Date of Award

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Leadership Studies

Abstract

The work of this paper is important to leadership studies for two reasons. First of all, such examination furthers the exploration of first lady leadership and interprets the lives and works of ER and HRC in a new way. Also, this paper will help test the validity of a new model of contingency theory. Wren and Swatez explain that leadership studies needs such a model, one "that identifies and affirms the various levels of historical and cultural forces that act upon the leadership process" (247).

Contingency theories of leadership examine the relationship between leaders, followers, and the situation, and often use models to describe or predict leadership effectiveness. These theories and models share an assumption that "different behavior patterns (or trait patterns) will be effective in different situations, and that the same behavior pattern (or trait pattern) is not optimal in all situations" (Yuki 14). The current leadership scholarship offers many theories and models of contingency theory; including House's path-goal theory, Kerr and Jermier's leader substitutes theory, Fiedler's LPC contingency model, and Vroom and Yetton's normative decision model, to name a few. Despite the abundance (and quality) of writing and research on this subject, most theories and models are limited to a strictly organizational context.

In their 1995 work "The Historical and Contemporary Contexts of Leadership: A Conceptual Model," Thomas Wren and Marc Swatez of the Jepson School proposed a model of contingency "designed to expand the notion of leadership context to embrace the impact of long-term historical forces and the influence of cultural values upon leadership" (246). Their model explains leadership as an interaction between leaders and followers through a sequence of contextual categories, represented by three concentric circles. The circle begins at the outermost level with the historical context of leadership. Within that framework, the leader must consider the long-term social, economic, and political forces of her culture. The middle circle represents the contemporary context of leadership: its social values, cultural mores, and subcultural norms. The inner circle represents the immediate context of leadership on which the current leadership literature focuses. Within this context, the leader must consider his organization's structure and goals, its culture, and the characteristics of the task at hand.

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