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Edited by Andrew J. DuBrin
Chapter 3: Transformational leadership for crisis management
Organizational crisis has been defined as “a low probability, high-impact event that threatens the viability of the organization and is characterized by ambiguity of cause, effect, and means of resolution, as well as by a belief that decisions must be made swiftly” (Pearson and Clair, 1998: 60). The first decade of the 21st century has seen such major crises as September 11, 2001 and the global financial crisis of 2007–2009. A crisis such as a natural disaster, terrorist attack, product failure, workplace violence, bribery, or scandal emphasizes the importance of the role of the leader in leading the organization through the crisis (Pearson and Clair, 1998). According to Darling (1994), the frequency of crisis in organizations has increased exponentially in recent years and crisis management allows an organization to manage its day-to-day activities while dealing with the crisis (Cho and Tseng, 2009). Several studies show that leadership makes a difference under conditions of crisis (e.g., Bligh, Kohles, and Meindl, 2004a,b) as follower perceptions of the leader and the leader’s influence on group performance are higher under crisis than no crisis conditions (Mumford, Friedrich, Caughron, and Byrne, 2007). Two prominent leadership models have been consistently linked to crisis: charismatic and transformational leadership. In this chapter, I focus on the role of transformational leadership in the management of crisis and offer some suggestions for practice and research that will hopefully help us understand how transformational leadership strategies can be better deployed in the context of the challenges of the 21st century.
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