- Volume 14 Issue 2
Among public organizations, does variation in organizational structure explain variation in public managers' leadership styles (e.g., transformational and transactional leadership)? The study of leadership in public organizations is increasingly an area of scholarly interest partly sparked by movements to reform public organizations, particularly in the context of emergency management. There is, for example, a need for effective leadership that can help organizations respond to disasters (Kapucu et al. 2010; Van Wart and Kapucu 2011; Stern 2013). There are numerous documented cases where the lack of leadership skills has been linked to major social and economic losses as a result of poor disaster response (e.g., Hurricane Katrina in the U.S.). Yet, leadership is a complex concept and numerous theoretical frameworks have been developed to help explain it (Van Wart 2005). Practically speaking, the existence of different theories of leadership suggests that public managers can decide to exercise various styles of leadership. The style of leadership that a public manager exhibits matters because some styles are perceived to be more effective than others (Trottier et al. 2008). While the effects of leadership have been extensively studied, antecedents or predictors of leadership style have received little scholarly attention (Wright and Pandey 2009; Nielsen and Cleal 2011). The purpose of this research note then is to explore the potential causal relationship between the structure of an organization and the ability of a public manager to exercise transformational leadership in the context of emergency management in two Asian countries: South Korea and Japan. This research note consists of three main sections. The following section explores the relationship between leadership and organizational structure. The second section examines how certain concepts of leadership and organizational structure were applied in two case studies of disaster response. The final section presents some directions for future research.
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