Institutional Repository

Scientist's leadership style in a scientific organization.

Show simple item record

dc.contributor.advisor Rall, P. J. (Prof.) Von Wielligh, Madelein Heila Magdalena 2009-05-26T13:21:46Z 2009-05-26T13:21:46Z 2006-09
dc.description.abstract The Council for Geoscience (CGS) is one of the National Science Councils of South Africa and is the legal successor to the Geological Survey of South Africa. The total staff complements numbered 291 as of March 2006, consisting of four executive managers, 18 unit managers, 124 professionals, 84 technicians, 41 administrative personnel, 17 unskilled labourers 3 skilled workers. The strength of the CGS is manifested in its core of competent geoscience and technical staff. The primary business of the CGS is science; therefore scientists, apart from human resources, finance and procurement, are appointed to senior positions in the organisation. The criteria for scientists to qualify for managerial positions are either a masters or doctorate degree in science. Although a sound knowledge of science is needed for these positions, the necessary managerial and leadership characteristics have never played a significant role in the appointment of unit leaders. Therefore, it is the aim of this study to determine the leadership style of the scientists that were appointed as unit leaders. Theories on leadership provide for a variety of potential explanations regarding effective leadership, including personal attributes, contingencies, and the role of subordinates. By analysing managerial leadership, it becomes important to consider and recognise the complex interplay among the structure of organisational life, patterns of behaviour, varied beliefs, values, interests, and initiatives of the individuals who create and work within this structure. Research on organisational leadership has grown systematically with the advance of industrialisation. Large work organisations are associated with bureaucratic and technological complexity that affects the demand for managers and the need for coordination and leadership roles. Leadership theories have evolved over time, becoming more sophisticated and even more applicable for their “innovation”. Different perspectives have featured throughout history. Theories of leadership are primarily analytical, directed at better understanding of the leadership process and the variations among them. The most up- to- date concept within leadership is the theory of transformational and transactional leadership. Transformational leadership comprises five factors — (1) idealised influence: attributed; (2) idealised influence: behaviour; (3) inspirational motivation; (4) intellectual simulation; and (5) individualised consideration — of which the first two factors refer to the concern, power, personal morality, and sacrifice of the leader, as well as his or her ability to instil collective pride in the group’s mission. The third factor relates to motivating the group to accomplish missions through challenging goals and by indicating certainty in areas of uncertainty, which, in turn, arouse individual and team spirit. The fourth factor refers to the leaders’ ability to relate at an individual level to the follower and the fifth factor to intellectual stimulation. Transactional leadership display behaviours associated with constructive and corrective transactions, and comprises three factors— (1) contingent reward leadership; (2) management-by-exception: active; and (3) management-by-exception: passive — of which relates to leaders who involve themselves only when things go wrong, i.e. the constructive style. Their interventions are associated with failure and punishment. The corrective style is labelled management-by-expectation: active, which refers to the closer involvement in monitoring the subordinates’ actions. Contingent reward leadership relates to rewards for work performance. The Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) has become a standard instrument for assessing a variety of transformational, transactional and non-leadership scales and was used to assess the leadership style of scientists of the Council for Geoscience. The instrument measures a broad range of leadership types: passive leaders, leaders who give contingent rewards to subordinates and leaders who transform their subordinates into leaders themselves. The objectives of the study were to (1) determine the leadership style of scientists in positions of unit leaders; (2) how their supervisors, peers and subordinates perceive their leadership style; and (3) whether scientists as unit leaders, perceive their own leadership style differently than do their supervisors, peers and subordinates. The MLQ instrument contains 45 items that identify and measure key leadership and effectiveness behaviours. A five point rating scale (0: 1: 2: 3: 4) is used for rating the frequency of observed leader behaviour where 0=not at all, and 4=frequently, if not always. The average scores of the MLQ questionnaire for the Council for Geoscience ranged from 2 to 3 on the transformational leadership factors. Participants in general perceive scientists in unit leader positions more as transformational leaders as apposed to transactional leaders. The 2.5 rating on transformational leadership indicates that the unit leaders are often influential in the awareness of what is important. The ratings of scientists as unit leaders were similar to the ratings of their peers and 'others'. Supervisors and subordinates, however, rated them lower. Transactional leadership ratings for the majority of leaders were between 2.0–3.0 on CR, and MBEA and 1.0–2.0 on MBEP. The ratings obtained, indicate that unit leaders would be seen as people wwho prefer to monitor and take action before failures occur. Supervisors, peers and others rated the scientists as unit leaders higher on transactional leadership, except for subordinates who rated them lower. Leaders are rated 0–1 on laissez-faire leadership style. Supervisors, peers and subordinates rated scientists as unit leaders higher on laissez-faire leadership style than the rating they gave themselves (self-rating). The low rating on the laissez-faire leadership style confirms that leaders do get involved in important issues and have a need to be involved in the decision-making process. Scientists as unit leaders, however, perceive themselves to be more involved than do supervisors and subordinates. Attribution ratings (extra-effort, effectiveness and satisfaction) varied from 2.0–3.0. For attribution dimensions, supervisors and subordinates rated the scientists as unit leaders lower on extra-effort, effectiveness and satisfaction, whereas peers rated them higher. The satisfaction dimension indicates that unit leaders often work with others in a satisfactory way. For attribution dimensions, supervisors and subordinates rated the scientists as unit leaders lower on extra-effort, effectiveness and satisfaction, whereas peers rated them higher. Supervisors are less satisfied with the leaders than subordinates are. The results obtained from the MLQ questionnaire for the leadership style of scientists in the Council for Geoscience are slightly different from those of United States companies. The Council for Geoscience, compared with United States (US) companies, rated lower on both transformational leadership and attribution dimensions (extra-effort, effectiveness and satisfaction) and higher on both transactional and laissez-faire leadership styles. This seems to indicate that the Council for Geoscience tends to follow a less inspirational and influential leadership style with more objective setting and less satisfying methods of leadership, compared with US companies. Transformational leadership development is recommended for the scientists as unit leaders of the Council for Geoscience. It is important to note that false transformational leaders (seemingly transformational leaders with a self-absorbed tendency) should be distinguished from the genuine ones. Optimism and employee frustration can be used in future surveys by the Council for Geoscience to determine the progress of transformational leadership development in the organisation. The leadership of an organisation influences the organisational culture. Upper management is responsible for the implementation of the necessary changes to promote transformational leadership. The culture of an organisation is a reflection of upper management. If upper management does not realise the importance of transformational leadership, the chances for the rest of the organisation to promote a transformational leadership culture in the organisation are not good. One recommendation to consider is for the Council for Geoscience to employ people with adequate managerial skills in unit leader positions. These skills would include leadership traits, operational skills, financial skills, etc. A decision needs to be taken by the Council for Geoscience that when scientists are employed as unit leaders or as members of the upper management cadre, they must have adequate managerial and leadership skills, and all parties have to agree with the competency and be satisfied with the management styles. en
dc.format.extent 1 online resource (xv, 135 p.)
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Management for Competitiveness en
dc.subject Enterprises en
dc.subject Brand development en
dc.subject Leadership en
dc.subject.lcsh Organizational effectiveness -- Leadership
dc.subject.lcsh Organizational leadership -- Executive ability
dc.subject.lcsh Leadership
dc.subject.lcsh Council for Geoscience (CGS) -- Leadership
dc.title Scientist's leadership style in a scientific organization. en
dc.type Research Report en
dc.description.department Graduate School of Business Leadership M.B.L.

Files in this item

This item appears in the following Collection(s)

Show simple item record

Search UnisaIR


My Account