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A Theory of Expert Leadership

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  • Goodall, Amanda H.

    () (Cass Business School)

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Goodall, Amanda H., 2012. "A Theory of Expert Leadership," IZA Discussion Papers 6566, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6566
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Nicholas Bloom & John Van Reenen, 2007. "Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1351-1408.
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    4. Goodall, Amanda H., 2009. "Highly cited leaders and the performance of research universities," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(7), pages 1079-1092, September.
    5. Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2005. "Neighbors as Negatives: Relative Earnings and Well-Being," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 120(3), pages 963-1002.
    6. Clark, Andrew E. & Oswald, Andrew J., 1996. "Satisfaction and comparison income," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(3), pages 359-381, September.
    7. Kevin J. Murphy & Jan Zabojnik, 2006. "Managerial Capital and the Market for CEOs," Working Papers 1110, Queen's University, Department of Economics.
    8. Amanda H Goodall, 2005. "Should top universities be led by top researchers, and are they?," General Economics and Teaching 0510003, EconWPA.
    9. 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.
    10. Becker, Gary S, 1973. "A Theory of Marriage: Part I," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 81(4), pages 813-846, July-Aug..
    11. Goodall, Amanda H., 2011. "Physician-leaders and hospital performance: Is there an association?," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 73(4), pages 535-539, August.
    12. 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.
    13. Goodall, Amanda H. & Pogrebna, Ganna, 2012. "Expert Leaders in a Fast-Moving Environment," IZA Discussion Papers 6715, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    14. 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.
    15. 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.
    16. 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).
    17. 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.
    18. Lazear, Edward P., 2012. "Leadership: A personnel economics approach," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 92-101.
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    1. Goodall, Amanda H. & Pogrebna, Ganna, 2012. "Expert Leaders in a Fast-Moving Environment," IZA Discussion Papers 6715, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    expert leaders; CEOs; inherent knowledge; core business; organizational performance;

    JEL classification:

    • J24 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - Human Capital; Skills; Occupational Choice; Labor Productivity
    • M12 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Business Administration - - - Personnel Management; Executives; Executive Compensation
    • M51 - Business Administration and Business Economics; Marketing; Accounting; Personnel Economics - - Personnel Economics - - - Firm Employment Decisions; Promotions

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