An analysis of the contribution of leadership to organisational performance using complexity science

Hester Nienaber (UNISA, Pretoria, South Africa)
Göran Svensson (Oslo School of Management, Oslo, Norway)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Publication date: 9 August 2013



The purpose of this paper is to explore the leadership tasks at the different hierarchical levels in the organisation in terms of the teleological approaches to complexity science.


It is based upon a theoretical discussion linked to conceptual and managerial frameworks in conjunction with a conceptual analysis.


The introduced conceptual and managerial frameworks provide a foundation to the understanding of organisational performance. They also strive to offer a foundation of understanding to management and leadership and how they complement each other.

Research limitations/implications

It is not easy to empirically substantiate complexity in conceptual and managerial frameworks. The authors use teleological approaches of complexity science in an unorthodox way that need validation in a broader context offering opportunities for further research.

Practical implications

We need to think differently about organisational performance and how we present and reflect on information that appears to be “linear” although it is not necessarily the case.


The paper contributes to an alternative assessment organisational performance. It endeavours to reflect on the complexity of organisations and taking into account a pluralistic approach that synthesises a variety of perspectives, including a bottom‐up approach to problem solving.



Nienaber, H. and Svensson, G. (2013), "An analysis of the contribution of leadership to organisational performance using complexity science", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 32 No. 8, pp. 836-851.

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Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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