Research Proposal: Servant Leadership Does Service-Learning Experience Help Students

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Servant Leadership

Does Service-Learning experience help students promote characters of Servant Leadership at Fu-Jen Catholic University and National Taiwan University?

Leadership can be found in many forms. Some leaders are self-serving, seeing everything in their possession as a tool to be used for their personal gain. Other leaders seem to have a special spark that inspires people. These leaders have a strong desire to give something back to their community. They bring a sense of moral responsibility to their positions. These leaders are what researchers refer to as servant leaders. Spawning this type of leadership is the goal of most secondary educational institutions around the world. This research study will examine the effects of the service learning experience in two major Universities on the ability to develop the characteristics of the servant leader in their students. It will use an experimental design to study this area of interest.

Table of Contents

Introduction

Chapter 2: Literature Review

Chapter 3: Methodology

References

Appendix I: Letter of Consent

Appendix II: Survey Instrument

Does Service-Learning experience help students promote characters of Servant Leadership at Fu-Jen Catholic University and National Taiwan University?

Chapter I: Introduction

The servant leader embodies the concept that the only true leader is one who recognized the needs of those that they lead as their top priority. The servant leader differs from the self-serving leader in their attitude and philosophy that recognizes the good of the many over personal power and financial gain. Leadership goes beyond simple management of resources. It is represented by the ability to inspire others and to elicit their cooperation through a desire to emulate strong leadership. Development of the servant leader is a primary goal of secondary schools. They wish to be able to develop the type of servant leader that will be needed in the future. This study will examine the importance the servant experience in secondary schools in the development of the servant-leader attitude.

Research Question

The central research question that will be asked by this study is, "Does Service-Learning experience help students promote characters of Servant Leadership at Fu-Jen Catholic University and National Taiwan University?" Although this question will center on two specific university settings, the findings and information obtained will be useful in other university settings as well.

Background and Significance of the Study

The development of service leaders has received much attention from academic sources. This trend in research is driven by the need to find ways to instill the attitudes embodied by the servant leader in our future CEOs and upper managers. Servant virtues include love, humility, trust, vision, and empowerment (Waddell, 2006). These valued are reflected in the manner in which a leader interacts with the world around them.

Research into servant leaders found that servant leaders tend to be introverts, rather than extroverts (Waddell, 2006). They need less recognition and positive feedback from the outside world, than the extrovert. They are motivated by their own internal drives, attitudes, and ambitions rather than which actions are likely to lead to recognition from others (Waddell, 2006). They are self-motivated and are more likely to prefer being the "giver" rather than the "receiver" in a relationship. They possess an inner solitude that stems from placing others first, experiencing a certain detachment from their own needs.

Robert Greenleaf helped to define what is meant by the servant leader. His definition includes this question, "Do others around the servant-leader become wiser, freer, more autonomous, healthier, and better able themselves to become servants? Will the least privileged of the society be benefited or at least not further deprived?" (Greenleaf, Spears, & Covey, 2002, p. 27). This quote embodies the spirit of and sets the standard for servant leaders. It is this driving concept behind their development.

For the purposes of this study servant leadership will be defined using the subscales that are contained within the survey instrument. A servant leader will be defined as someone who score high on the positive traits of servant leadership and low on the negative traits contained within the scale. These scales will be discussed further in the methodology section of the study.

Developing Servant Leaders

The development of servant leaders is important to the future of businesses. In order to meet this need, many universities require a servant leader experience for those enrolled in programs that will result in a leadership position in the future. The servant leadership experience is an integral part of this learning experience. It cannot be separated from the topic of the servant leader. Until the student experiences the world from someone else's perspective, they cannot accept themselves as a part of the whole.

The thesis of this study involved the service learning experience, but this cannot be separated from the topic of servant leadership. The service leadership experience is the pathway to the development of the servant leader. Much of this research will focus on the servant leader, but only due to the need to understand the servant leader, as it relates to the service learning experience.

Much of the previous research into this area focused on defining and categorizing the servant leader. The constructs and concepts of the theory are well defined. Instruments have been developed to assess the degree of servant leadership within a person. Research highlights the importance of becoming a servant leader and the need to develop these qualities in our future business leaders. However, few studies exist that investigate a specific method for developing these qualities.

This study will play a significant role in furthering the ability to develop servant leaders by investigating a single piece of the educational experience for future leaders. It will help to determine the value of the servant experience in the development of the qualities of the servant leader in university students. One of the key questions, and biggest controversies, regarding the servant leader is whether they can be created, or whether these qualities are innate and a part of the individual's personality. This study will help to answer the question of whether servant leaders are made, or whether they are born into the role. This study will aid in the development of future servant leaders by providing validity for the servant experience during a student's experience in the development of servant leadership qualities.

Hypotheses

The research question asked by this study leads directly to the hypothesis. The following hypothesis will serve as the guiding statement for this study.

H1: University students that have completed a service-learning experience will score significantly higher on a scale to determine servant leadership characteristics than students that did not complete a service-learning experience.

The alternative (null) hypothesis will state that, "No difference will be found on servant leadership scales between those that have completed service-learning experiences and those that have not completed service leadership experiences."

The hypothesis and null hypothesis of this study have several ramifications for future studies into servant leadership and a major theoretical controversy within that field. If the hypothesis holds true, then it supports the position that experiences during the learning process can lead to the development of servant leadership traits. This suggests that servant leaders can be made, rather than simply being born with those traits. However, if the null hypothesis holds true, then it may suggest that these traits cannot be learned. There are many variables that can affect the outcome of this study that can limit the ability to determine direct causality and servant leadership tendencies to be inherent, rather than learned. This study will be conclusive in this area, but the results are expected to support one position or the other regarding the ability to learn servant leadership traits.

Variable Definitions

The conceptual variables for this study are derived from the existing body of theoretical research that exists in this area. The concept that servant leadership traits can be developed though the service-learning experience of university students forms the key research construct of this study. This study will approach the development of servant leadership from the theoretical position that the service-learning experience will have a significant emotional impact on the students and that it may change the attitudes and perceptions of students that are not already oriented in this way of thinking.

The conceptual variables of the study will be operationalized through the use of pretest-treatment-posttest study design. Variables for the pretest will be identical to the variables on the posttest. The dependent variable will be the change in attitude or servant leadership orientation, as compared between two research groups. In this study, the service learning experience will serve as the independent variable. It is expected that the independent variable (service-learning experience) will have an affect on changes in the scores of the two groups in their servant leadership traits. Differences between the two research groups in their posttest scores will reflect the degree of change that the independent variable had on the dependent variable.

Chapter 2: Literature Review

The concept pf servant leadership has been a part of academic circles since the concept was first introduced by Greenleaf… [END OF PREVIEW]

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