Purpose – The purpose of the paper is to present a theory of the leadership process within the substantive setting of a cleaned‐up bureaucracy. Design/methodology/approach – Orthodox grounded theory is employed within the setting of a large public‐sector organization in an eastern state of Australia. Findings – A leadership process model is presented which depicts a core social process within which subordinates' view of leadership is formed. Subordinates in cleaned‐up bureaucracies view leaders as people who service them, thus facilitating the movement of subordinates towards the minimization of their “attainment differences”. This view is far from the New Leadership notions of the charismatic, visionary, transformational leader or the captain‐like instrumental and authoritative leader. Research limitations/implications – Findings are derived on the basis of a substantive case study of one cleaned‐up bureaucracy in a particular country. Further research needs to expand this base to encompass other organizations in a wider range of countries across different cultures. Practical implications – The grounded theoretical model draws attention to the intermediation and brokering role of leaders below the top management team who need to find ways to accommodate within the unilateral dictates of the senior executive strategies designed to minimize the attainment differences of subordinates. Originality/value – The paper responds to recent calls to situate leadership process research within specific organizational and change contexts. Not all organizational change involves movement away from existing structures, systems or principles. Rather, some change efforts involve movement within the framework of existing structures, systems or principles, in the sense that they are aimed at tightening up rather than breaking down these concepts. Thus, change efforts are often aimed at cleaning‐up bureaucracies so they can achieve their prime objectives more efficiently. The leadership literature is far less rich in analysing such situations, a deficiency which this paper is aimed at filling.
Journal of Organizational Change Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 1, 2006
Keywords: Leadership; Organizational change; Employee attitudes; Public sector organizations; Australia
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