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A Theory of Expert Leadership

  • Goodall, Amanda H.


    (Cass Business School)

How much knowledge should leaders have of their organization's core business? This is an important question but not one that has been addressed in the management literature. In a new 'theory of expert leadership' (TEL), this paper blends conceptual work with recent empirical evidence. It suggests that organizations perform more effectively when led by individuals who have a deep understanding of the core business of their organization. Being a capable general manager is not sufficient. Expert leaders are those with (1) inherent knowledge, acquired through technical expertise combined with high ability in the core-business activity; (2) industry experience, which stems from time and practice within the core-business industry; and (3) leadership capabilities, which include management skills and a leader's innate characteristics. This paper criticizes the rise of the professional manager and generalist CEO. It argues that expert leaders improve organizational performance through knowledge-based strategy, by acting as a standard bearer, by creating the right environment for core workers, and, finally, by adopting the long view. The paper concludes by identifying the potential boundaries of TEL.

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Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 6566.

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Length: 45 pages
Date of creation: May 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6566
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  1. Andrew E. Clark and Andrew J. Oswald, . "Satisfaction and Comparison Income," Economics Discussion Papers 419, University of Essex, Department of Economics.
  2. Nick Bloom & Christos Genakos & Ralf Martin & Raffaella Sadun, 2008. "Modern Management: Good for the Environment or Just Hot Air?," CEP Discussion Papers dp0891, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Goodall, Amanda H., 2011. "Physician-Leaders and Hospital Performance: Is There an Association?," IZA Discussion Papers 5830, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  4. Kevin J. Murphy & Jan Zabojnik, 2006. "Managerial Capital and the Market for CEOs," Working Papers 1110, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
  5. Palley, Thomas I., 1997. "Managerial turnover and the theory of short-termism," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 32(4), pages 547-557, April.
  6. Amanda H Goodall, 2005. "Should top universities be led by top researchers, and are they?," General Economics and Teaching 0510003, EconWPA.
  7. David Card & Alexandre Mas & Enrico Moretti & Emmanuel Saez, 2010. "Inequality at Work: The Effect of Peer Salaries on Job Satisfaction," NBER Working Papers 16396, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Antia, Murad & Pantzalis, Christos & Park, Jung Chul, 2010. "CEO decision horizon and firm performance: An empirical investigation," Journal of Corporate Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 288-301, June.
  9. Bridgewater, Sue & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Goodall, Amanda H., 2011. "Substitution and complementarity between managers and subordinates: Evidence from British football," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(3), pages 275-286, June.
  10. repec:oup:qjecon:v:120:y:2005:i:3:p:963-1002 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. repec:oup:qjecon:v:122:y:2007:i:4:p:1351-1408 is not listed on IDEAS
  12. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-46, July-Aug..
  13. Nick Bloom & Christos Genakos & Ralf Martin & Raffaella Sadun, 2010. "In brief: Modern Management: Good for the environment or just hot air?," CentrePiece - The Magazine for Economic Performance 303, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  14. Goodall, Amanda H. & Pogrebna, Ganna, 2012. "Expert Leaders in a Fast-Moving Environment," IZA Discussion Papers 6715, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  15. Goodall, Amanda H. & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2008. "Why Do Leaders Matter? The Role of Expert Knowledge," IZA Discussion Papers 3583, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  16. Goodall, Amanda H. & Kahn, Lawrence M. & Oswald, Andrew J., 2011. "Why do leaders matter? A study of expert knowledge in a superstar setting," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 77(3), pages 265-284, March.
  17. Lazear, Edward P., 2012. "Leadership: A personnel economics approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 92-101.
  18. Goodall, Amanda H., 2009. "Highly cited leaders and the performance of research universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1079-1092, September.
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