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A Kantian theory of leadership

Norman Bowie (Elmer L. Andersen Chair of Corporate Responsibility, University of Minnesota, USA, and Dixons Professor of Business Ethics and Social Responsibility, London Business School, UK)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 June 2000



Uses Kant’s moral philosophy to provide a normative theory of leadership. First shows how Kant’s philosophy would reject instrumental theories of leadership and most charismatic theories of leadership. Perhaps somewhat more surprisingly, it questions some of the assumptions of servant leadership and puts constraints on transformational leadership and the leader as educator. The central concept of Kant’s moral philosophy is the dignity given to autonomy. Thus a good leader ought to respect and enrich the autonomy of followers. The Kantian leader turns followers into leaders.



Bowie, N. (2000), "A Kantian theory of leadership", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 21 No. 4, pp. 185-193.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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