Research Proposal: Leadership Power Struggles and Firm Performance

Pages: 3 (1087 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper

Leadership power struggles are commonplace in the corporate world, but there has been relatively little study about how these power struggles affect organizational success. Derkzen et al. (2007) inquire as to whether or not internal power struggles signify a successful partnership, where the individuals engaged in the struggle may be providing the sort of governance needed through the process of challenging each other's ideas. Power is usually discussed at a macro-level, the power of different elements of society, for example. This creates a fairly significant gap in our understanding of how leadership power struggles influence the performance of organization. Indeed, such power struggles are natural when leadership is diffuse, and particularly when diffused among individuals with differing worldviews (Smith, et al., 2006). This is likely because the strongest ideas will rise to the top, and be the ones implemented.

There has been significant amounts of research on organizational power dynamics, so that is a well-studied issue that can form the basis for understanding how such dynamics -- conflict in particular -- affect organizational outcomes (Fairholm, 2009). Some research has had a fairly narrow focus, such as how struggles manifest in terms of executive power, and what that does to both governance and firm performance (Combs, et al., 2007), or how different leadership styles might affect performance (Gadot, 2006), but ultimately this is a thinly-studied issue. With that starting point, it is possible to begin explaining how organization dynamics, power and conflict might affect outcomes. Hypotheses can be developed, and subsequently tested.

Research Design

The research will utilize multiple different case studies. There are a few issues that will need to be resolved in order to make this possible. First, the concept of a leadership power struggle needs to be understood and defined. There is risk that arriving at a definition of what precisely constitutes a leadership power struggle will lead the researcher to specific conclusions -- in other words if something is not destructive, is it considered a leadership power struggle? If it has to be destructive to be considered a 'struggle', surely we do not need to conduct any research because we know the outcome is negative. So the definition has to be constructed in a way consistent with the literature and in a way that still leaves room for both positive and negative outcomes.

Once several case studies have been identified, there will need to be some analysis of the similarities and differences between the cases, as these are expected to have some explanatory power. So the research will be conducted on the basis of existing case studies on organizational conflict, to examine this issue. Financial data can be used to analyze organizational performance, but there may be challenges in operationalizing other variables.


Thus, is the issues regarding operationalizing variables cannot be overcome, the study will need to be primarily qualitative in nature. However, it may prove possible to develop a classification system for different types of leadership power struggles, in which case it may be reasonable to analyze if there is any connection between those and organizational financial outcomes. The issue of employee behavior is much more difficult to operationalize, so if that is the primary direction that the research take, it will necessarily be the case that the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Leadership Power Struggles and Firm Performance.  (2015, June 24).  Retrieved August 19, 2019, from

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"Leadership Power Struggles and Firm Performance."  24 June 2015.  Web.  19 August 2019. <>.

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"Leadership Power Struggles and Firm Performance."  June 24, 2015.  Accessed August 19, 2019.