Literature Review

Chapter overview

The second chapter of this work deals with the most widely recognized leadership theories of the past decades. After a thorough introduction of the Full Range Leadership and Leader-Member Exchange, recent concepts such as empowering leadership and self-leadership are highlighted. The subsequent part of the work covers the latest publications on distance leadership, delineating e-leadership, virtual leadership, and distance leadership from one another. In the course of the literature review, definitions of distance dimensions are illustrated and their interaction with organizational work-related outcomes is indicated, continually placing particular emphasis on physical distance, relationship quality, and leader-member interaction frequency. Additional forms of distance are outlined and defined. The chapter finally presents a summary of the most compelling studies with regard to self-leadership and distance leadership.

Leadership Theories - From Early Stages to Modern Concepts


The need to study leadership exists jointly with the requirements to lead people in international corporations. Whereas leadership in its early stages was studied predominantly as a hierarchical phenomenon, today, leadership encompasses many issues surrounding the leader, subordinates, peers, and context (Avolio, Walumbwa & Weber, 2009, p. 422). With its numerous facets, leadership has gradually evolved into one of the most investigated fields in organizational science (Yukl, 2013). The key role of leadership is regarded as enhancing organizational relationships among individuals. Effective international corporate leadership relies upon functioning leader-follower relationships (Avolio & Kahai, 2003). With the number of investigations, the number of definitions of leadership has risen to a substantial level, involving the frequently discussed controversy between process and behavioral views. Whereas Bass (1990) views effective leadership as dependent on contextual factors, others see leadership as a behavior reflecting the quality of understanding (House, Javidan, Hanges & Dorfman, 2002). Bass (1990) states that leadership relies on “physical proximity, social and organizational propinquity, and networks of open channels of communications” (p. 658). House et al. (2002) refer to organizational leadership as “the ability of an individual to influence, motivate,

© Springer Fachmedien Wiesbaden 2017

N. Poser, Distance Leadership in International Corporations,

Advances in Information Systems and Business Engineering,

DOI 10.1007/978-3-658-15223-9_2

and enable others to contribute toward the effectiveness and success of the organizations of which they are members” (p. 5).

A look into the past

Research in leadership has undergone a transition over time, originally placing particular focus on the investigation of personality traits and competences of organizational members in the first half of the twentieth century (Jenkins, 1947). From then on research began to pay attention to the hierarchical component of leadership. The leader and his/her behavior were the center of focus (Scott, Nahrgang, Wellman & Humphry, 2011). With the investigation of behavioral aspects of leadership, it was soon discovered that leaders have to adjust their behavior according to the requirements of a specific situation (Blake & Mouton, 1978). Almost contemporaneously, behavior-based models were further developed, resulting in the evolution of contingency theories of leadership. Contingency models unite ideas from behavior- based approaches, yet they also consider interaction with followers (Fiedler, 1967; Fiedler & Garcia, 1987). Other popular contingency leadership theories were developed by Hersey and Blanchard (1969) and Vroom and Yetton (1973). Only in the 1990s, more attention was paid to the relationship between leader and followers, pushing relationship-oriented leadership to the fore. The most widely recognized concept describing the relationship between the two parties is leader-member exchange theory (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995). According to this model, leaders and members form differentiated relationships during their work span which can take on diverse degrees of quality. High quality relationships are ascribed to a basis in mutual trust and respect. Low quality relationships do not extend past the mere fulfillment of work duties (Graen & Uhl-Bien, 1995).

With the further development of relationship-oriented leadership, Bryman (1992) defined a paradigm called New Leadership. Opposed to the Old Leadership paradigm, in which transactional leadership and a concentration on role and task fulfillment were dominant behaviors (Antonakis, 2012), charismatic and transformational leadership play a central role in the New Leadership approach (Furtner & Baldegger, 2013; Judge & Piccolo, 2004). Charisma is described as a phenomenon that is frequently subject to research. The charismatic leader can be defined as an individual who can bring about social change (Weber, 1947). Weber defines charisma as “specific gifts of the body and spirit not accessible to everybody” (Weber, 1986, p. 19). The fundamental aspect describing a charismatic individual lies in the ascription of charisma, entirely relying on others’ perceptions (Bass, 1985; Neu- berger, 2002). Yet, Antonakis (2012) traces the roots of charisma to centuries ago. The author claims that Aristotle (trans. 1954) provided a definition of charisma that continues to inform the modern understanding of the concept. He explains the use of rhetoric in persuading followers, using terms similar to literature on charismatic behavior. With this, Aristotle is not only a pioneer in the field of charisma, but also in Full Range Leadership (Bass, 1985).

Transformational leadership has progressed since its first publication by James MacGregor Burns in 1978. Effectiveness of leaders and performance outcomes due to effective leadership have since been investigated carefully. The researcher describes transformational leadership as a process of transforming leader and followers by establishing a shared vision and a sense of ethical and moral behavior. The leader recognizes the needs of followers and tries to fulfill them. In the best scenario, this stimulates intrinsic motivation and leads to improved productivity (Bass & Riggio, 2006). Leaders must act people-oriented as well as task-oriented. Focusing solely on one function is far less effective (Denison, Hooijberg & Quinn, 1995). Favorable leadership has been identified in terms of being active in the leadership role, initiating structure, exhibiting consideration, and articulating the team goal (Bass, 1990; Kolb, 1995). Particularly, problems of integrating members and neglecting to respond to individual needs can cause severe disruptions in the leader- follower relation. The most successful leaders can provide both: structure and consideration (Bass, 1990; Kayworth & Leidner, 2002). The structural component can be enhanced by continuously providing feedback on task-related issues. Consideration can be pushed through motivational and mentoring activities by leaders that affect the value-oriented side of followers. Leadership effectiveness is observed carefully by subordinates since leadership largely depends on the perception of followers (Bass, 1990).

The New Leadership paradigm is characterized by its concentration on the heroic leader who uses their power to influence others (Furtner & Baldegger, 2013). Yet, the leader-centric approach in empirical investigations is subject to criticism (Ali- mo, 1995). Leadership concepts focus on the influence of one central individual on other individuals and the organization, yet it is often noted that effective leadership of people and organizations requires multiple individuals and/or their cooperation (Crevani, Lindgren & Packendorff, 2007). The post-heroic approach to leadership shifts the central view away from the leader to more complex interactional processes (Fletcher, 2004). The most recognized streams in post-heroic leadership research are empowering leadership, and with it shared leadership, superleadership, and self-leadership.

The present study assumes a critical position with regard to heroic, leader-centric approaches to leadership. Not only does it place the attention on followers, it com?bines fragments of the New and Old Leadership paradigms with post-heroic streams from recent academic work. The research is directed at investigating effects of leadership behavior on followers’ work-related outcomes, taking concepts of post-heroic leadership into account. The most widely accepted model reflecting leadership behaviors is the Full-Range Leadership Model developed by Bass and Avolio (1995). It not only represents transformational behaviors, but also takes a more holistic view of leadership including transactional and passive behaviors. Moreover, the research takes follower-centric aspects into account by incorporating self-leadership into the empirical investigation. To understand the mechanisms of leadership and self-leadership, related theories of empowering leadership, shared leadership, and superleadership are explained. As the interaction between leader and followers involves a relational component, Leader-Member Exchange theory is presented as an integral part of this study.

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