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Title: Beyond Nelson : a post-heroic study of leader-follower interaction in the Royal Navy
Author: Offord, Matt
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 9241
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2016
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Leadership studies have traditionally considered leader characteristics to account for leadership outcomes such as leader emergence or team performance. This heroic narrative has always had its opponents but recently a post-heroic approach is becoming more prominent. Post-heroic approaches contest the assertion that leadership outcomes are mainly the product of leader traits. My research begins with a particular leader trait, the ability to interact, and bridges the two approaches by investigating the process from leader competence to leadership outcomes. The research uses a sequential exploratory design incorporating mixed methods. Three projects were conducted in Royal Navy (RN) warships. A qualitative project developed a leader-follower interaction model. The model suggests that leadership is granted by followers after a long-term series of mundane encounters. These encounters allow followers to build a group consensus of leader prestige. Prestige inuences follower behaviour such as engagement, disengagement and a covert form of resistance called levelling. A second project mapped the advice and participation networks on RN vessels and determined the prestige of team and sub-team leaders. Regression techniques allowed me to verify empirically the signicant relationship between prestige scores and team performance for ships conducting Sea Training. A nal project conducted on a warship in the South Atlantic verified a similar relationship between advice network prestige and intra-team communication. Finally I used the findings of the two empirical projects, based on sub-team or dyadic relationships, to model the effects of prestige at the group level, using computer simulation. I discovered that prestige that is dispersed throughout a group generates more effective teams, in terms of communication, than other conditions. This challenges the traditional top-down view of leadership communication. The resulting leader-follower interaction model describes a series of mundane and contested encounters through which prestige is given to dispersed leaders within a group. The theoretical impact of my research is to develop trait-process approaches to leadership and to describe leader-follower interaction as a post-heroic process. In doing so, I synthesise engagement theory with antropological approaches, including resistance to leadership. Practically, my projects validate the RN's compentency method of selecting leaders but points out that prestigious leaders alone cannot maximise team performance.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available