Victor C. Gavino: A draft of a dissertation to be submitted in partial fulfillment of a PhD in Religious Studies, McGill University. Comprehensive Review of Literature, Chapter 1, Sections 1 and 1.1.1.
Chapter 1 Comprehensive Review of Literature
1.1 General Outlines of Leadership Theories
In the last few decades, leadership as an academic discipline has evolved into a vast and still-expanding multi-disciplinary research field with significant conceptual links to the sociological sciences, the humanities, and the professional/applied fields. It is nearly congruent with the field of organisational studies in its objects of investigation. It suffers from a historical proliferation of terminology, mainly due to the diverse academic disciplines that in the last few decades began to formulate leadership theories independently of each other. It continues to be an active research area with output in several specialized academic journals and volumes.
In view of the vast repertoire of leadership research emanating from diverse frameworks and interests, this section of the review of literature focuses on elements that have relevance to the subject of this thesis.
1.1.1 Leadership is an intrinsic social phenomenon
Leadership occurs at every level of social interaction, whether formal or informal, from dyadic to multi-centre groups, organisations and populations. In his essay on the history of studies on the nature and practice of leadership, Yammarino opened with:1 Francis Yammarino, “Leadership: Past, Present, and Future,” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 20, no. 2 (2013).
“Leadership is one of the most widely researched and discussed topics in all areas of organizational sciences because literally nothing gets accomplished without it.”
In antiquity, leadership had already been a social concern both in matters of governance2 See John Philippoussis, “The Question of Plato’s Notion of ‘Leadership’ in Ihe Republic,” Phronimon 1, no. 1 (2000). as well as in folklore.3 Idealisation, worship, and emulation of heroes as recounted in ancient to modern myths and legends illustrate the fundamental human social phenomenon of leadership-followership interactions. See for example the collected writings of Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Third edition. ed., Collected Works of Joseph Campbell (Novato, California: New World Library, 2008). Over time, the formulation of theories and models of leadership and leadership behaviour up to the present appears to be more an outcome of progressive understanding rather than a series of discontinuous conceptual or paradigm shifts. Indeed, leadership studies as it evolves follows a continuous thread of concepts4 Edward Peck and Helen Dickinson, Performing Leadership, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).Ch 2. that are cumulative5 Robert J. House and Ram N. Aditya, “The Social Scientific Study of Leadership: Quo Vadis?,” Journal of Management 23, no. 3 (1997). in nature. For example, a current leadership model that reaches back into antiquity is “Mythopoetic Leadership” derived from the classic hero-myth construct.6 Chip Jarnagin and John W. Slocum, “Creating Corporate Cultures through Mythopoetic Leadership,” Organizational Dynamics 36, no. 3 (2007).; Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The Epilogue. In this model, mythmaking is held to be a leadership behaviour, a skillful weaving of a narrative that builds up meaning and identity within the collective.
To account for the general, global, and diachronic phenomenon of leadership, Paul R. Lawrence and Michael Pirson proposed an analysis based on Darwinian principles.7 Paul R. Lawrence and Michael Pirson, “Economistic and Humanistic Narratives of Leadership in the Age of Globality: Toward a Renewed Darwinian Theory of Leadership,” Journal of Business Ethics 128, no. 2 (2015). They suggest that from Homo habilis through to Homo erectus and then to Homo sapiens, four fundamental drives evolved and combined to form leadership phenomena. These four Darwinian drives are:
- the drive to acquire (appropriation of power by the leader with an expectation of rewards for both leader and followers);
- the drive to defend (negative consequences imposed on the non-conformers);
- the drive to bond (interpersonal relationships); and
- the drive to comprehend (knowledge superior to that of the followers).
In this analysis, the ability of a leader to influence the behaviour of followers is understood as various combinations of these four drives. Importantly, this construct posits that leadership phenomena are innate to human beings irrespective of epoch or era.
The cumulative nature of knowledge on the nature and characteristics of leadership phenomena across time8 Peck and Dickinson, Performing Leadership. Ch 2. confers legitimacy to the use of current leadership theories and models to further understand that which occurred in the distant past, e.g., first-century Pauline communities, the subject of this thesis. For example, using the Darwinian analysis of leadership proposed by Lawrence and Pirson,9 Jarnagin and Slocum, “Creating Corporate Cultures through Mythopoetic Leadership.”; Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces. The Epilogue. Paul’s leadership behaviours would fit the four Darwinian drives in the following ways:
- Paul’s missionary activity is by its objectives, the desire to acquire, that is, “win more of them… for the sake of the gospel;”10 From 1 Cor 9:19-23 (ESV).
- The drive to defend is evident in the letter to the Galatians;11 See for example Gal 1:9 “As we have said before, so now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.” (ESV)
- The drive to bond is expressed in the filial and fraternal appeals present in 1Thessalonians12 First Thess 2:7 “But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children.” (ESV) and in Philippians;13 Philippians 1:8 “For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.” (ESV)
- The drive to comprehend is evident in 2 Cor 2. In an indirect manner, the desire to gain knowledge or expertise beyond that possessed by the followers is implied in the description of Paul’s letters in 2 Pet 3:16b.14 There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction…” (ESV).
These correlations indicate that the apostle’s leadership behaviour can be mapped onto an era-independent Darwinian analysis of leadership phenomena. This strongly suggests that leadership phenomena has fundamental components that are stable diachronically.
Narrative Leadership15 Narrative Leadership will be reviewed in detail in Chapter 2. is a recent addition to the ensemble of models of leadership behaviour in business organisations16 David Fleming, “Narrative Leadership: Using the Power of Stories,” Strategy & Leadership 29, no. 4 (2001). and ecclesial settings.17 Vaughan Roberts and David Sims, Leading by Story: Rethinking Church Leadership (London, UK: SCMPress, 2017). Narrative leadership theory begins with the premise that humans have been employing narrative for a variety of purposes across a time and cultural continuum. This coupled with the diachronically stable nature of fundamental notions of leadership legitimises the narrative approach to the analysis of the leadership style of Paul as presented in Biblical text.
(to be continued)
- Campbell, Joseph. The Hero with a Thousand Faces. [in English] Collected Works of Joseph Campbell. Third edition. ed. Novato, California: New World Library, 2008.
- Fleming, David. “Narrative Leadership: Using the Power of Stories.” Strategy & Leadership 29, no. 4 (2001).
- House, Robert J., and Ram N. Aditya. “The Social Scientific Study of Leadership: Quo Vadis?”. Journal of Management 23, no. 3 (1997/06/01 1997): 409-73.
- Jarnagin, Chip, and John W. Slocum. “Creating Corporate Cultures through Mythopoetic Leadership.” Organizational Dynamics 36, no. 3: 288-302.
- Lawrence, Paul R., and Michael Pirson. “Economistic and Humanistic Narratives of Leadership in the Age of Globality: Toward a Renewed Darwinian Theory of Leadership.” Journal of Business Ethics 128, no. 2 (2015): 383-94.
- Peck, Edward, and Helen Dickinson. Performing Leadership. [in English] (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
- Philippoussis, John. “The Question of Plato’s Notion of ‘Leadership’ in Ihe Republic.” Phronimon 1, no. 1: 109-45.
- Roberts, Vaughan, and David Sims. Leading by Story: Rethinking Church Leadership. London, UK: SCMPress, 2017.
- Yammarino, Francis. “Leadership: Past, Present, and Future.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies 20, no. 2: 149-55.