The role of stewardship in leadership

Richard D. Waters (School of Management, University of San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA)

Journal of Communication Management

ISSN: 1363-254X

Publication date: 11 November 2013



Using the contingency theory's classification of leaders, the purpose of this paper is to examine how the categories of public relations leaders incorporate relationship building tactics into their public relations programming and explore how this categorization of leaders corresponds with existing public relations role theory.


A survey (n=539) of public relations practitioners in the USA was carried out using established scales for the contingency theory of leadership and public relations role theory.


The contingency theory of leadership accurately describes the leadership styles enacted by the industry. An individual's use of stewardship strategies during public relations programming was successfully able to predict leadership orientation.


The results strengthen the argument posed the contingency theory of accommodation in public relations that environmental factors have strong implications on industry practices. One's leadership traits are not sufficient by themselves in determining who will succeed in managing and leading different professional scenarios.



This research was funded by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations in accordance to a leadership grant received in 2008.


D. Waters, R. (2013), "The role of stewardship in leadership", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 324-340.

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