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Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice by Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria

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15

A CONTINGENCY THEORY OF LEADERSHIP

Jay Lorsch

THE IDEA of a contingency theory of leadership is not novel. In the 1960s several scholars (Fiedler, Tannenbaum and Schmidt, and Vroom and Yetton) conducted research and proposed such an approach, arguing that the style of leadership that would be most effective depended on the situation. 1 This work was an integral part of the wave of organizational behavior research that led to what we labeled a “Contingency Theory” of organizations at the time.2 Like much of the early contingency work, these efforts on leadership suffered from some limitations. First, although there was an agreement that the appropriate leadership style did depend on situational contingencies, there was not complete agreement ...

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