If you search for leadership theories to build your dissertation topic and theoretical framework, you are in the right place. Leadership is always an exciting and evergreen topic in management and behavioural studies. Depending on the many ways of thinking, there are over 66 leadership theories. Writing your dissertations without confusion between a leader and manager is challenging even for the brightest minds. Hence, explore a few current leadership theories and models to apply for building your management dissertation topics.
What is leadership?
Leadership is the process wherein an individual influences an individual to achieve a common goal. Hence it is not a trait, behaviour, or position but one made by the influence you make on others. Only leaders can influence the employees to offer their best to develop an organisation or any work. Merely giving orders, making schedules, and reviewing performances, requires dedication and a wide range of skills. It is why small to big companies worldwide need leaders to grow their businesses by overcoming the many challenges. Hence it becomes essential for knowing the right and relevant leadership theories for your dissertation topics.
Leadership theories for dissertation topics
Depending on the type of dissertation topic, choosing the leadership theories is easier said than done. It may solve a problem, increase sales by removing bottlenecks, or develop business among the severe competition. For you to choose the right one for applying it to build your dissertation topic, many leadership theories include.
To explaining capacity for leadership
Situational Leadership Theory
To identify a particular personality or behavioural characteristics shared by leaders
Transformational Leadership Theory
Focus on particular variables related to the environment that choose a particular style of leadership is best suited for the situation
Focus on the role of supervision, organisation, and group performance
Focus on the study of specific behaviours of a leader
Grand Man Theory of Leadership
Focuses on identifying the innate qualities and characteristics possessed by great men.
Trait Theory of Leadership
Focuses on identifying different personality traits and characteristics that are linked to successful leadership across a variety of situations
Among these leadership theories, “Transformational and Transactional leadership theories are the most effective style to use in business situations”.
i) Transformational Leadership Theory
The Transformational Leadership theory, also known as Relationship theories, focuses on the relationship between the leaders and followers. This theory talks about inspirational and charismatic leader inspiring their followers to change and become better at a task. Transformational leaders classically motivated by their ability to show their followers the significance of the task and the higher good involved in performing it. These leaders are focused not only on the team’s performance but also on individual team members’ required push to reach their potential. This leadership theory will help you to sharp your Skill.
ii) Transactional Theories
Transactional Theories, also referred to as management theories or exchange theories of leadership, revolve around the role of supervision, teamwork and organisation. These theories ponder rewards and punishments as the basis for leadership acts. This is also oft-used business theories, and the supporters of this leadership style practice rewards and punishments to inspire employees.
Recent research on transformational and transactional leadership theories
i. A Meta-Analysis of Transactional Leadership and Follower Performance: Double-Edged Effects of LMX and Empowerment
In this article1 meta-analytic work for the relationship between transactional leadership and one of the most focal leadership outcomes: follower performance. The transactional leadership follower performance is discussed using a meta-analytically tests model based on social exchange theory and self-determination theory. Transactional leadership is theorised to affect follower performance sequentially through the leader-member exchange (LMX). Psychological empowerment has been investigated. It’s discussed how leaders can benefit from these findings, including modifying one’s delivery of transactional leadership approaches. Figure 1 shows the coefficients for all paths in the hypothesised model.
Figure 1. Estimated Mediation Model1
ii. Leadership of Political Policy Entrepreneurs: A Comparison of Transactional and Transformational Styles
In this review work2, policy change in both transactional and transformational leadership styles of policy entrepreneurs has been discussed. India’s overall policy changes during the NDA rule of 2014–2019 were taken into account, focusing only on political policy entrepreneurs. The qualitative data helped in designing the questionnaire, which consequently got filled by 158 respondents. The results established the positive and significant relationship of both styles with policy changes. However, transformational leadership behaviour is preferable to transactional in influencing policy changes.
iii. Bolstering Workplace Psychological Well-Being Through Transactional and Transformational Leadership
The work3 focus on leadership and related (e.g., organisational behaviour, human resources, applied psychology) the theoretical or empirical study of employee psychological well-being. Researchers have instead focused primarily on subjective well-being (e.g., job satisfaction, life satisfaction, and positive affect). This research work focuses on four contributions. The work intends to provide propositions to encourage the field to reach beyond subjective well-being by theorising new linkages between leadership, psychological well-being, and follower work behaviour. The work seeks to enrich our understanding of the underpinnings of thriving and performance in the workplace.
Similarly, other related studies by Albert et al. 4, Alrowwad et al. 5, Jacobsen et.al6 have also discussed the transactional and transformational leadership effectiveness.
The future work needed for current and future scholars in the realm of leadership:
- Additional empirical studies of leadership- especially experimental and quasi-experimental lab and field studies as well as longitudinal, process-oriented, and dynamic studies
- Fuller accounting of context, both conceptually and empirically, in leadership research: whether context-dependent, context-specific, or context-free
- Fuller accounting of culture, both conceptually and empirically, in leadership research: whether culture-dependent, culture-specific or culture-free (universalistic)
- A better understanding of the “dark side” of leaders and leadership to complement the more advanced knowledge about the “bright side” of leaders and leadership
- A better understanding of biological and genetic components of leadership
- A better understanding of the cognitive-emotional interface in leaders and for leadership
- Additional work on minorities (who will soon be the majorities) in leadership and minority (who will soon be the new majority) leaders
- Complete development of multilevel issues in terms of leadership theory, concepts, construct usage, relationships, measures, data analysis, and inference drawing
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1. Young HR, Glerum DR, Joseph DL, McCord, MA. A Meta-Analysis of Transactional Leadership and Follower Performance: Double-Edged Effects of LMX and Empowerment. Journal of Management. March 2020. doi:10.1177/0149206320908646.
2. Mishra, S.S. Leadership of Political Policy Entrepreneurs: a Comparison of Transactional and Transformational Styles. Public Organiz Rev (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11115-021-00508-6.
3. Hannah ST, Perez ALU, Lester PB, Quick JC. Bolstering Workplace Psychological Well-Being Through Transactional and Transformational Leadership. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies. 2020;27(3):222-240. doi:10.1177/1548051820933623.
4. Puni, A., Hilton, S.K. and Quao, B. (2020), “The interaction effect of transactional-transformational leadership on employee commitment in a developing country”, Management Research Review, Vol. 44 No. 3, pp. 399-417. https://doi.org/10.1108/MRR-03-2020-0153.
5. Alrowwad, A., Abualoush, S.H. and Masa’deh, R. (2020), “Innovation and intellectual capital as intermediary variables among transformational leadership, transactional leadership, and organisational performance”, Journal of Management Development, Vol. 39 No. 2, pp. 196-222. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMD-02-2019-0062
6. Christian Bøtcher Jacobsen Lotte Bøgh Andersen Anne Bøllingtoft Tine Louise Mundbjerg Eriksen, Can Leadership Training Improve Organizational Effectiveness? Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Transformational and Transactional Leadership, Public Administration Review, 2021, https://doi.org/10.1111/puar.13356.