How does Laissez-Faire leadership influence organisational culture development?

How does Laissez-Faire leadership influence organisational culture development?

Several factors influence organisational culture development including ‘management and staffing’ (Mullins, 2002, pp. 805 – Appendix 1). There is agreement that organisational leaders play a prominent, influential, role in forming and developing culture (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010; Robbins, 2003). Schein (2010, pp.3) asserts that ‘…leadership and culture are two sides of the same coin’, describing two sets (primary and secondary) of mechanisms used by leaders to exert influence over culture development (Appendix 2).

Theory is primarily focused on the influence of leadership style on culture development through interactions and relationships between leaders and their organisations. But this dissertation focuses on the laissez-faire style of leadership; whereby the leader ‘…does not want to get involved’ and ‘…just lets the members of the group get on with the work in hand’, leaving members to take decisions normally taken by managers and leaders through a ‘…non-style of leadership’ that ‘…could perhaps be labelled as abdication’ (Mullins, 2002, pp.266) or described as ‘…the absence of effective leadership’ (Yukl, 2006, pp.263). In other words – the absence of leadership, and subsequently limited interactions and relationships.

Therefore, the research question of this dissertation is “How does Laissez-Faire leadership influence organisational culture development?” The research objectives are to:

1. Critically review theories of the relationship between leadership and organisational culture

2. Research how laissez-faire leadership style influences organisational culture development, focusing on a case study organisation

3. Recommend leadership changes (for the leader of the case study organisation) that will change the organisational culture to a preferred state

This dissertation is founded upon a pragmatism philosophy, and classified as ‘pragmatic science’ (Saunders, 2007, pp.8) as it aims to be ‘both theoretically and methodologically rigorous and relevant’. This is ‘applied research’, seeking to produce findings that are ‘of direct and immediate relevance to managers’ which ‘addresses issues that they see as important, and is presented in ways that they understand and can act-on.’ (Saunders, 2007, pp.9).


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