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Contingency Theory of Leadership

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Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance


Contextual; Democratic and authoritarian leadership; Potestas and auctoritas in leadership; Situational

Introduction: Contingency Theory

The main purpose of this article is to summarize the main ideas and contributions of the contingency theory of leadership (CTL) and to show its usefulness for the public sector. To do that, we are going to adapt it to the special characteristics and traits of public management considered as a design science (Barzelay and Thompson 2010).

The most important theoretical backgrounds of the CTL are the behavioral school and McGregor’s Theory X and Theory Y. According to McGregor’s thesis (1960), leadership strategies are influenced by a leader’s assumptions about human nature. A leader holding Theory X assumptions would prefer an autocratic style, whereas one holding Theory Y assumptions would prefer a more participative style. Anyway, the best style of leadership was the participatory. Later on, Blake and Mouton (1964) created the “managerial...

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Correspondence to Manuel Villoria .

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Villoria, M. (2016). Contingency Theory of Leadership. In: Farazmand, A. (eds) Global Encyclopedia of Public Administration, Public Policy, and Governance. Springer, Cham.

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  • Online ISBN: 978-3-319-31816-5

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