Leadership Power Struggles Essay Paper 3 pages

Leadership Power Struggles

Leadership is an incredibly complex concept that has been the focus of study from many different academic disciplines — Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Social Psychology, Business, Sociology to name a few. The literature comes in a wide variety of many differing opinions both from within the academic world as from professional practitioners. Most of the literature seems to focus on effective or ineffective leadership and the role that the organizational culture and environment play in the leaders ability to meet particular organizational objectives. However, there seems to be little literature that is directed at the consequences of power struggles between aspiring leaders in an organization and the consequences this might have for the organizational and its effectiveness. This proposal will attempt to craft a niche in this realm.

Research Problem

There are many individual instances of power struggles in organizations. One specific instance that is worthy of discussion is in the formation of cross-functional teams. A cross-functional team by definition includes an array of professionals from varying professional backgrounds, many of which are leaders in their specialty. The complexity and dynamism of team tasks are greater in contemporary organizations than ever before, and our study suggests that managers must dynamically adapt their understanding of situational demands and what resources are needed to address those demands; one research study findings suggest an increasing importance of team leadership functions that focus on reading the team’s task environment, providing autonomy and fostering empowerment (Aime, Humphrey, Derue, & Paul, 2014). This research suggests that as more cross-functional and dynamic teams are designated to specific projects, there will need to be a greater understanding of leadership and how power struggles can be successfully mitigated in such situations.

Other researchers have also noticed shifting trends in organizational leadership. Leadership is one of the most important factors to organizational success, yet it is argued that the models have not kept pace with the evolutions in the dynamics of leadership in the modern business environment (Spisak, O’Brien, Nicholson, & Vugt, 2015). Some research has attempted to use biological science with existing organizational theory to model the evolution of leadership and its impact on organizational change (Spisak, O’Brien, Nicholson, & Vugt, 2015). This perspective looks at leadership as a niche phenomenon that can change and vary from moment to moment at could also be potentially used as a model for power struggles in leadership in modern organizations.

Power struggles in leadership can also commonly be found in publically traded companies that still comprise family members who are in leadership positions based on the organizations heritage. The members of the family often yield significant power and can create a source of conflict between the non-family leadership structures. One study found, drawing on the structural basis of power, set out that greater equality in structural power (or compensation, status, and representation) across family and non-family top management team members increases performance in family firms; moreover, the research posits that this relationship is stronger under increasing environmental dynamism and higher governance performance, but weaker under the presence of a founder CEO (Patel & Cooper, 2014). Examining conflicts of power in such situations could also offer insights into how power struggles can affect the broader organization.

Another interesting aspect to power and leadership is definitely tied to culture. For example, one study aimed to explore how power distance between German expatriate leader and their Chinese subordinates influence the leader’s job satisfaction and the motivation of their subordinates and found that the data revealed that higher power distance made Chinese employees to be more motivated by their German leaders, and can predict fewer communication problem encounters and higher job satisfaction of German expatriates (Rau, Liu, Juzek, & Nowacki, 2013). This study highlights the fact that power struggles in an international business community could also stem from cultural differences. Although this study found that the cultural differences produced positive outcomes, it would likely be the case that other studies of different cultures would have different results.

Significance of the Study

Leadership is one of the most important components of organizational success. However, the research regarding leadership and the power struggles that can be found in leadership positions is perceived as not keeping pace with the changes in the globalization of business and international business networks. This study could be significant in the fact that it could provide new insights into the future of leadership.

Research Question

How has globalization and leadership power struggles that come from a variety of sources affect organizational outcomes?

Method Overview

The primary method of investigation will be a literature review that attempts to span many different disciplines to examine how different concepts of leadership are evolving in the new global business environment.


Leadership is a complex concept that has been a difficult subject for researchers over the course of many decades. The understanding of leadership is now even more complex as the business world is largely globalizing. The emergence of power struggles for leadership seems as is if it will be become increasingly common in this environment. As such, this makes an interesting topic of research and could provide insights into how leadership is evolving in an increasingly dynamic environment.


Aime, F., Humphrey, S., Derue, D., & Paul, J. (2014). THE RIDDLE OF HETERARCHY: POWER TRANSITIONS IN CROSS-FUNCTIONAL TEAMS. Academy of Management Journal, 327-352.


Rau, P., Liu, J., Juzek, C., & Nowacki, R. (2013). Fostering Job Satisfaction and Motivation through Power Distance. Global Business Management Research, 161-170.

Spisak, B., O’Brien, M., Nicholson, N., & Vugt, M. (2015). NICHE CONSTRUCTION AND THE EVOLUTION OF LEADERSHIP. Academy of Management Review, 291-306.

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