EDEV_506 Week 4_1

The graphic you provide is illuminating and thought provoking. What I appreciate most about the graphic is the visual reminded that older theories of leadership still have an effect in the present. For example the turquoise controller and scientific management element still has an effect that runs through to the present day. In other words, older theories are not entirely supplanted by newer ones, but they complement and add to each other. In many ways, however, the earlier methods may be subsumed into the later ones as techniques whereas the later ones are initially encapsulated as ideologies before their usefulness is reinterpreted as technique. Perhaps this distinction helps explain part of the concept of leadership/ manager differences that McCaffery (2010) takes pains to elaborate upon.

My main addition to your excellent summary is to note the double tasks we have this week of delimitating the possible elements of cultural impact on leadership and separating those which seem valid from those which may be unconvincing. To this end, I will add a caution about epistemology taking by way of example the work of Kouzes and Posner (2011). Kouzes and Posner (2011) updated their top twenty ‘traits’—I will leave aside the distinction between these being traits or learnable characteristics—from their earlier study in 1993 and found that the top four (i.e. honesty, forward-looking, inspiring and competency) remained stable across the fifteen countries they studied. Underpinning this theory is the assumption that, for example, honesty leads necessarily to better performance. However for HE management, the nature of truth in ethical administration is problematic (Kline, 2010). Kline (2010) outlines a case in which a faculty dean lied to a faculty member about the reasons funding was not available for a project, and although Kline ultimately does not accept that deans should be unethical, he admits that the lie supports the dean’s professional duty towards the mission of the HEI.

Furthermore, Kouzes and Posner’s (2011) account omits a thorough culture-bound exploration of the construct of honesty. In Japan, for example, two types of attitude inform an individual’s positioning in regard to honesty: ‘honne’ and ‘tatemae’:

“This is a widely noted concept in Japanese culture— tatemae —the official line which all pretend to accept, at least in public, and particularly to outsiders—versus honne —which are the real practices or intentions, which may be discussed only among close associates and family” (Goldfinch, 2006, p. 593, emphasis in original).

An individual may submit entirely contradictory statements depending on how they perceive their role. As an employee of a particular organisation, I am expected to present only the official version to outsiders, and my private concerns may only have a voice in highly proscribed situations. This is accurate for the Japanese case, but it remains an open question as to the face validity of research in other socio-political spheres. Due to Kouzes and Posner’s lack of clarity of investigation into this crucial term in relation to how it may be culturally and situationally bound, much scepticism can be drawn against their findings. Unfortunately for the state of the research in much of this week’s reading resources, this criticism remains valid.

Jim

Goldfinch, S. (2006). Rituals of reform, policy transfer, and the national university corporation reforms of Japan. Governance, 19(4), 585–604. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-0491.2006.00341.x

Kline, D. (2010). On Telling Faculty the Truth. In E. E. Englehardt, M. S. Pritchard, K. D. Romesburg, & B. E. Schrag (Eds.), The Ethical Challenges of Academic Administration (pp. 143–150). Dordrecht: Springer.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2011). Credibility: How leaders gain and lose it (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McCaffery, P. (2010). The Higher Education Manager’s Handbook: Effective Leadership and Management in Universities and Colleges (2nd ed.). Milton Park, UK: Routledge.

About theCaledonian

Scot living in north Japan teaching at a national university.
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