First and second order leaders and leadership
: a new model for understanding the roles and interactions between leaders and managers working in contemporary Australian-based ogranisations undergoing change

  • Karen Borgelt

    Student thesis: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) - CDU


    Over the past 25 years, technological and other changes have dramatically transformed the Australian workplace. Continuous demands for quick results, an ever improving bottom line, shorter time frames and constant change have had particular impact on the role of leadership, which has become more nebulous yet, at the same time, is held more responsible for organisational success.

    The research question―What is the role of leaders and leadership in contemporary Australian-based organisations undergoing change? ― addresses the nature of modern leadership and the role of organisational leaders. The study has three broad aims: to understand the nature of contemporary organisational leadership; to examine whether current leadership practice is meeting organisational demands; and to identify how our current and future leaders can be better supported in a changing organisational context.

    The study explores the perceptions and practices of 61 leaders who work in a wide range of Australian public and private organisations through analysis of in-depth interviews. Key themes relevant to these leaders’ experiences are identified. These provide insight into the activities and thinking that support or hinder leadership success and their implications for the organisation as a whole.

    The findings suggest that oganisational leadership is best conceptualised not as a unitary phenomenon but, rather, as comprising two largely interdependent―though frequently confused―disciplines. The investigation identified eight ways in which both forms of leadership can be hijacked from their intended purposes. Drawing on the study data, the researcher has developed a leadership and management taxonomy that depicts how leadership and management should work together in order to achieve an organisation’s short- and long-term goals.

    The research thus makes an original contribution to empirical and theoretical work in the field of organisational leadership education policy and design. The study’s recommendations provide a framework and guidelines for improving the performance and competence of contemporary Australian organisational leaders during these challenging and often uncertain times.
    Date of AwardDec 2013
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorRuth Wallace (Supervisor)

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