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World cups, olympic games and invasions: on the leadership of complex undertakings.
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World cups, olympic games and invasions: on the leadership of complex undertakings.

2.010  Encontro da Divisão de Estudos Organizacionais da ANPAD, 17p..   NELSON, Reed E.;  SANT'ANNA, Anderson de Souza. Artigo Nelson, Reed E. (Reed Elliot) NELSON, Reed E.;  SANT'ANNA, Anderson de Souza. The study and practice of leadership have much to do with understanding the setting or context within leadership is exercised. Traditional contingency theories of leadership recognize the importance of context, but it might be argued that they propose rather simplistic models of context. The relative underdevelopment of theories of leadership context may be one of the reasons for the increasing frequency of calls for more research on, and a better understanding of the relationship between context and leadership (Porter and McLaughlin 2006). A bold and novel answer to this call for a better understanding of leadership context has come from the social constructivist branch of sociology. In probably the first constructivist contingency theory of leadership, Keith Grint (2000, 2005) poses a typology of problems critical,tame, and wicked, which require different leadership styles. Critical problems are typically self-evident and very time sensitive and call for command -- assertive if not coercive leadership. Tame problems are programmable and stable and require good management of processes emphasizing planning and rationality. Wicked problems are not amenable to linear planning or formally rational processes and involve competing goals and subjective values. These require consultative leadership. Grint’s novel contribution is to point out that different observers and stakeholders will construe or construct the same situation differently. For instance, the Bush administration construed Saddam Hussein’s weapons capability as posing a Critical problem, while other western governments construed it as a Wicked problem and most UN weapons inspectors construed it largely as a Tame problem. Grint’s arguments provoke those interested in leadership to take seriously the difficulties involved and the strategies used in defining context and to debate the degree to which leadership context is socially constructed or objective. In this paper we will make a modest attempt to advance the conceptualization of leadership contexts and the debate about the boundaries of a constructivist view of context. We will do so through an inductive historical analysis of three important moments in World War I: the planning of the German invasion of France, the execution of that plan, and the French response to the mutinies of 1917. We can summarize our central contributions in two affirmations: 1.) The planning and execution of large scale undertakings which bring together large quantities of material and human resources that must be mobilized and applied in a relatively short, real time window, lead to predictable dynamics requiring specific leadership styles. 2.) The inherent logic of these large scale undertakings create objective pressures which place limits on leaders’ ability to construe the nature of the context. The degree to which these two affirmations are valid in turn have deep implications for the practice of leadership. If the constructivist perspective is affirmed, the practice of leadership is relatively unconstrained as long as leaders perfect the leadership arts of construing traits and settings. If the objectivist perspective is more accurate for describing complex undertakings, the accurate selection and placement of leaders becomes paramount. Inglês 005 N429w 2010