Criticizing 4 Articles

Criticizing the 4 Articles

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Criticizing the 4 Articles

The impact of leadership theory on leadership and management styles is well evidenced and documented in research and practice.  Leadership theories anchor the operational choices that leaders make in diverse organizational settings. However, leadership theory continuously evolves as organizational settings transform to suit emerging circumstances. Notably, the followership in organizations is changing radically as the proportions of labor in different generations change. For instance, generation Z has workplace ethics and characteristics different from their predecessors, including the Millenials and the fast-diminishing Baby Boomers. Consequently, contemporary organizational leaders are confronted by a complex labor force that is multigenerational and comprises a new and emerging cohort of workers that are challenging the established workplace practices. The emerging gig economy is transforming employer-employee relations, working practices, and human resource management approaches. Therefore, theoretical leadership approaches are increasingly being tested in the emerging workplace setting.

This critique focuses on four leadership theories that feature prominently in organizational settings; contingency theory of leadership, transformational leadership theory, leader-member exchange theory, and shared leadership theory. After a general critique of the selected articles, the theories discussed in them are evaluated comparatively before a summary is provided. After that, the research gaps and opportunities that emerge from these sources are presented to guide further studies.

Critique of the Articles

1st Article

The first article “contextual leadership: A systematic review of how contextual factors shape leadership and its outcomes” was authored by Oc (2018). This article addresses the gap presented by the lack of a systematic approach or agreement about what constitutes contextual leadership. In this regard, this article is appropriate because it addresses a gap in the existing literature, in which the systematic research approaches have not addressed the contribution of context in leadership. It also addresses the gap presented by the disagreement about what makes up the context for leadership, despite the acknowledgement that context plays a central role in leadership. In addition, this article is interesting because it addresses the contemporary issues dogging leadership in organizational settings, which are influenced substantially by organizational circumstances. Therefore, this article interrogates the quality of methodologies used in studying contextual leadership and seeks to structure the existing evidence more meaningfully. However, although it essentially accomplishes its purpose of assessing the quality of evidence in existing literature related to contextual leadership, the article does not delve directly into the contingency leadership model that anchors contextual leadership. Instead, it summons different contingency models to explain contextual leadership, specifically Fiedler’s contingency model and the cognitive resource theory and finds that these theoretic frameworks clarify the role of context in leadership. Nonetheless, this approach helps the author to confirm that contextual issues, as outlined in the contingency theory of leadership, are inherently implied in several existing leadership theories.    

The study presented in this article is a systematic review of the existing literature concerning contextual leadership. It focuses on the contextual factors that influence leadership, as presented in the existing literature. Therefore, it does not delve into the influence of leadership on the context of its operation; neither does it consider the relationship between the processes and outcomes of contextual leadership. The systematic review is a critical methodology approach because it appraises the existing evidence found in peer-reviewed journal article publications, enabling the appraisal of existing knowledge in the selected subject. However, the methodological approach used in this study presents several concerns. The study does not explain how the literature used in the review was selected.

This article is of low quality because it has a level V evidence rating, usually ascribed to systematic reviews. It relies on secondary sources produced by other researchers. Its main weakness is structural, although it contains valuable information usable in the proposed research thesis. In addition, Oc (2018) does not address the contingency theory particularly, although he uses it to explain the contextual factors that influence leadership. Nonetheless, the article exposes a research gap that can be used to inform the proposed thesis. Possible areas of further research include generating evidence on applying contingency theory in leadership.

2nd Article

The second article is authored by Andersen (2015) and is titled “Barking up the wrong tree: On the fallacies of the transformational leadership theory”. This article discusses the weaknesses of transformational leadership theory. Andersen (2015) argues that while the theory has highly popularized among organizational leaders because of its high follower motivational aspects, it has conceptual limitations because it is heavily infused with political aspects of leadership. Consequently, Andersen (2015) claims that the theory’s presentation as a contingency and universal theory undermines its application as a managerial leadership theory. The research presented in this article is appropriate because it challenges the widely-accepted belief that transformational leadership theory of superior to other leadership theories. It is also interesting because it debates the subtle differences in the concepts used to explain and support the transactional leadership theory. For instance, Andersen (2015) asserts that the interchangeable use of the terms effectiveness and performance complicated the understanding of the theory by shrouding it in ambiguity. Nonetheless, the article accomplishes the author’s intentions of exposing the conceptual and methodological weaknesses of the transformational leadership theory, which are not considered when positioning it above other leadership theories. This information expands on the common understanding of leadership by demystifying the popular transactional leadership theory by exposing its weaknesses.  

The methodology used in this study is unclear because the author does not divulge it. Nonetheless, Andersen (2015) has based his arguments on the evidence presented by authorities without generating any primary data. Consequently, this paper has used the qualitative research methodology by applying secondary sources. However, this secondary research methodology raises concerns about the selection of sources. Andersen (2015) does not explain how he selected the secondary sources underpinning his arguments in his conceptual paper. Therefore, the quality of the sources cannot be ascertained, and the study may have undisclosed biases in its arguments.

The quality of this study is low. Its evidence is rated at level VII because it is based on the opinions of authorities in the secondary sources. Consequently, the study can be improved by determining whether leaders are conversant with the weaknesses of transformational leadership and how these weaknesses have affected their leadership practice and effectiveness. This weakness in the study presents an opportunity for the next step in advancing the understanding of leadership theory weaknesses. The ideas presented in this study contribute to the emerging thesis proposal by presenting the opportunity to generate empirical evidence on the weaknesses of the transformational leadership theory.   

3rd Article

This article is titled “emotional intelligence and leader member exchange” and is authored by Jordan and Troth (2011). It investigated the leader-member exchange (LMX) theory and related it to the emotional intelligence of followers. The purpose of the study is to determine how the LMX theory mediates the relationship between the emotional intelligence of followers and turnover intentions and job satisfaction outcomes in organizations. This study is appropriate because it addresses the effects of leadership on employee outcomes in an organization. Besides, it is interesting because it uses leadership theory to explain the emotional state of employees using empirical evidence. Altogether, this article intends to influence the leadership practices in workplace settings by evidencing how they impact employee emotions and actions. It succeeds in doing so because it presents evidence indicating that the LMX theory influences the emotional intelligence and outcomes of employees at the workplace.

The methodology used by Jordan and Troth (2011) is qualitative research. They used a longitudinal study design to conduct a survey. Data was collected from employees working in a private pathology firm in Australia using questionnaires, which were administrated on paper. Since the study setting was a pathology firm, the respondents comprised nurses, administrators, drivers, pathology teams, and medical teams. Of the 1,973 participants invited to the study, 578 completed the questionnaires satisfactorily. In addition, data was collected in two instances from 578 participants, making the study longitudinal. However, there are methodological concerns in this study. Although Jordan and Troth (2011) describe their sample, they do not disclose how they recruited the participants or the ethical considerations they made. However, this methodological gap does not undermine the positive aspects or quality of the paper. Jordan and Troth (2011) conducted their study prudently and laid out their paper systematically using subheadings denoting the different sections appropriate for a research paper. Altogether, the paper has significant strengths missing from the other papers. For instance, the researchers articulated the sample recruitment process, which is purposive, although it was not expressly indicated in the paper. In addition, the researchers laid out the dependent, independent, and control variables accompanied by seven hypotheses, which enabled statistical analyses to be conducted. In turn, the analyses revealed bivariate correlations and regression trends, thus revealing the causal relationships between the variables. Therefore, the strengths of the paper outweighed its weaknesses. Consequently, the paper’s quality of evidence is rated at level V as a qualitative study.

This paper revealed that maintaining high-quality relationships between leaders and followers in organizations is a time-intensive undertaking, which calls for patience and dexterity on the part of the leader. Nonetheless, high-quality leader-follower relationships were critical to promoting positive follower attitudes, which had positive applications in the workplace. In addition, it revealed knowledge and evidence gaps that needed to be addressed in future studies. For instance, Jordan and Troth (2011) suggested that more research was required in using other measures apart from self-reported ones to increase the results’ validity. Also, they suggested that manager perspectives on the quality of leader-follower relationships were required to augment the findings of this study because it focused on the subordinates’ perspectives only. Altogether, the information provided in this paper paves the way for further research on how leaders can foster better relationships with their followers using leadership theoretical frameworks. Therefore, a proposed direction for the emerging thesis proposal is generating empirical evidence on the quality of manager-employee relationships using the different leadership theories and the effects of these relationships on employee and organizational productivity and effectiveness in the workplace.

4th Article

The fourth article is authored by Drescher and Garbers (2016) and is titled “shared leadership and commonality: a policy-capturing study”. This paper expands the understanding of the shared leadership theory as a collective leadership framework by investigating the effect of extraneous variables on the relationship between shared leadership and the performance outcomes of students and employees. It intends to emphasize the importance of shared leadership and its possible application in virtual teams. It addresses a gap in literature in which little is known about the interaction between shared leadership and other variables, such as communication and commonality in team settings. Drescher and Garbers (2016) succeed in their objective by providing empirical evidence that supports the interactive effects of communication and commonality on the shared leadership style. This paper is appropriate because it addresses the influence of shared leadership in a team setting and offers causal relationships that are applicable in virtual team settings, considering virtual work has gained significant prominence during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Also, the paper is interesting because it considers shared leadership to be an emergent and informal type of leadership style with potential applications in virtual teams.

Drescher and Garbers (2016) use a quasi-experimental research methodology, which resembles an experimental study, but lacks randomization. They apply a complete crossover design in their study to enhance validity and representativeness of the findings, thus making them generalizable across different settings and populations. They also use the longitudinal design because data is collected at two different instances using the same sample. In addition, they identified and formulated five hypotheses that guided the study. In addition, they identified the variables for testing the hypotheses. Further, data was collected using questionnaires, whose items were rated using a 5-level Likert scale, to enable conducting statistical analysis to determine the relationships between the variables. However, this methodological approach raises issues related to how Drescher and Garbers (2016) recruited their participants. No selection criteria are provided in the paper. In addition, the researchers do not clarify which are the dependent, independent and control variables, leaving most of that to the readers. Nonetheless, the quality of study is moderate because the evidence it generates is rated at level III. This is the highest quality ascribed to the four papers. The paper’s quality is high because it is organized systematically using subheadings required for a research paper, thus making it structurally superior to the other papers. Similarly,

Nevertheless, the study can be improved by including participant recruitment criteria and ethical issues addressed by the researchers. In addition, the ideas about shared leadership advanced by this paper can be investigated further to better understand leading virtual teams, which are becoming common in contemporary organizations. Therefore, the emerging thesis proposal could address the influence of different leadership theories on virtual team effectiveness. In that study, real teams rather than individuals could be used as participants.

Summary of the Critique of the Four Articles

The four articles were generally of poor quality because of methodological and structural weaknesses. Methodologically, these articles were not grounded on sound methodologies. Three out of the four articles, specifically Oc (2018), Andersen (2015), and Jordan and Troth (2011), did not indicate the methodology they used. Similarly, even though Drescher and Garbers (2016) declared having conducted a quasi-experimental research using the survey methodology, they did not justify why they preferred the quasi-experimental approach and the survey approach over other approaches. Similarly, from a structural perspective, although the papers were structurally cohesive, with subheadings signposting different concepts or ideas, the structure used in the reports did not meet the threshold required for laid out research reports. Research reports must have at least a background the study, the research aims, objectives and questions, a methodology section outlining how sampling was conducted and data was collected, a results and discussion segment, and a conclusion. Three out of four of the articles did not have this structural arrangement. Consequently, they were classified as commentaries that collated the different perspectives of authorities.

However, despite these weaknesses, the papers had some positive aspects. They were all relevant, appropriate, and interesting, indicating that they addressed critical issues related to leadership theories. In addition, they presented insights that promoted the understanding of leadership. For instance, Andersen (2015) downplayed the highly-rated transformational leadership theory by deconstructing its foundational basis. The article indicated that the transformational leadership theory lacked empirical and evidential support. Andersen (2015) also explained that the theory focused more on transforming the follower rather than completing the tasks presented to the followers. This is to mean that sound leadership theories were tested by their application in facilitating the completion of tasks by employees in a workplace, and the transformational leadership theory failed this test. Further, the articles discussed the aspects that influence the effectiveness of the different leadership theoretical foundations to reflect the issues encountered in workplace settings. In other words, the articles presented the applicability of the leadership theories in real-life situations and pointed out the areas that lacked sufficient information or research evidence, thus creating opportunities for further studies.     

Summary of Leadership Theories

Four theories are considered, including contingency theory of leadership, transformational leadership theory, leader-member exchange theory, and shared leadership theory. Each theory has outstanding characteristics that make it useful in an organizational setting. For instance, transformational leadership theory is preferred for motivating employees and fostering exemplar performance, while the leader-member exchange theory is useful in fostering positive and constructive relationships between managers and employees. Similarly, the contingency theory of leadership is critical for promoting adaptability in leadership by making leaders effective in diverse circumstances, while shared leadership is best applied in teams to promote teamwork. However, considering the modern workplace, where work conditions and habits are changing dramatically, shared leadership and contingency leadership theories are superior to leader-member exchange and transformational leadership theories. This is because teamwork and organizational change are common characteristics in the emerging workplaces, in which employers are striving to improve organizational performance by maximizing the utility of the human capital and managing organizational change, as indicated by Reunanen and Kaitonen (2017) and Wu and Cormican (2021). Specifically, Reunanen and Kaitonen (2017) advocate leaders to possess diverse leadership skills and exercise different leadership styles in different organizational circumstances, which promotes the application of the contingency leadership theory. They argue that different situational leadership approaches can address the rapidly changing organizational environments and conditions, which are prevalent in present-day organizations. Similarly, Wu and Cormican (2021) argue that current leaders are increasingly dealing with teams, thus requiring the application of the shared leadership style emphasized in the shared leadership theory. They reveal that in contemporary workplaces, organizational executives are increasingly recognizing the leadership potential of the members of their workforce and that collective and distributed leadership are more effective that the traditional vertical leadership approaches. In the same vein, modern workplaces are increasingly embracing teamwork more than individual effort. These circumstances are best addressed using the shared leadership theory, in which different individuals in a team are allowed to exhibit their unique leadership approaches at different times in the lifetime of their teams.   

Research Gaps and Opportunities

Research Gaps

The four articles revealed several gaps that can inform the emerging research proposal. Firstly, they demonstrated the need for improved methodology in figure studies. Only one study out of the four used a well-defined methodology, which was the quasi-experimental research design. The other articles were more like commentaries, yet they claimed to have obtained some findings. In this regard, the studies presented in these three papers did not have any primary data collected. Therefore, the findings they presented were not obtained directly from people that had experienced the different leadership styles.

Research Opportunities

The gaps identified in the four studies present several opportunities for further research. These opportunities could be used to inform the emerging thesis proposal. One opportunity is to use of rigorous and innovative research methodologies that would help capture the application, practice, and outcomes of the leadership theories in real-life situations, such as workplaces, which would be the focus of the proposed study. Another opportunity for further research is developing research questions that reflect the challenges leaders experienced in real life, particularly in workplace settings. Question formulation is a rigorous exercise that is informed by the existing knowledge gaps and the urgency of the emerging issues. In this regard, there is an opportunity for formulating research questions that interrogate the utility of leadership theories and how to translate leadership theory into leadership practice in organizational settings. Another opportunity emerges in comparing the utility of different theories in different organizational circumstances. This is because different theories have different strengths and weaknesses and different settings in which their effectiveness is amplified and others in which they are inapplicable. In this regard, the influence of the different leadership theories on the employer/manager-employee relationship should be investigated further, alongside the effects of the resulting relationships on employee productivity and organizational effectiveness.    

Conclusion

This critique focused on four articles authored by Andersen (2015), Drescher and Garbers (2016), Jordan and Troth (2011), and Oc (2018), which focus focused on transformational leadership theory, shared leadership theory,  leader-member exchange theory, and contingency theory of leadership, respectively. The comparative critique was challenging because the articles took different approaches to study different leadership theories. Similarly, the authors of the articles had different purposes, although they converged to reveal knowledge and evidence gaps that could be used to inform future studies, and particularly the emerging research proposal. The emerging research proposal should employ innovative methodology to interrogate leadership theories whose application is suiting and increasing in contemporary workplaces. In this regard, the research proposal should focus on collective and contingency leadership theories because they are best suited for contemporary organizational settings, which are increasingly becoming multicultural and multigenerational, and whose environments and circumstances are changing rapidly and unpredictably.    

References

Andersen, J. A. (2015). Barking up the wrong tree. On the fallacies of the transformational leadership theory. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 36(6), 765-777. https://doi.org/10.1108/lodj-12-2013-0168

Drescher, G., & Garbers, Y. (2016). Shared leadership and commonality: A policy-capturing study. The Leadership Quarterly27(2), 200-217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2016.02.002

Jordan, P. J., & Troth, A. (2011). Emotional intelligence and leader member exchange: The relationship with employee turnover intentions and job satisfaction. Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 32(3), 260-280. https://doi.org/10.1108/01437731111123915

Oc, B. (2018). Contextual leadership: A systematic review of how contextual factors shape leadership and its outcomes. The Leadership Quarterly29(1), 218-235. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2017.12.004

Wu, Q., & Cormican, K. (2021). Shared leadership and team effectiveness: An investigation of whether and when in engineering design teams. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 4045. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.569198

Reunanen, T., & Kaitonen, J. (2017). Different roles in leadership styles in modern organization. In Advances in human factors, business management, training and education (pp. 251-262). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-42070-7_24

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