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Fluid leadership in dynamic contexts: A qualitative comparative analysis of the biblical account of Nehemiah

Christopher H. Thomas (Department of Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS, USA)
Andrew S. Hebdon (Department of Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS, USA)
Milorad M. Novicevic (Department of Management, University of Mississippi, University, MS, USA)
Mario J. Hayek (Department of Marketing & Management, Texas A&M University-Commerce, Commerce, TX, USA)

Journal of Management History

ISSN: 1751-1348

Article publication date: 12 January 2015

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine an historical account of an effective leader who was able to draw from multiple styles of leadership, and choose a dominant style based upon contextual constraints and demands context, and subordinate behaviors associated with leadership styles not suited to the context.

Design/methodology/approach

To identify his prominent style at each leadership episode, we critically analyzed Nehemiah’s leadership role transitions across 13 chapters of text using sociohistorical method and a quasi-repeated treatment design via qualitative comparative analysis.

Findings

We found that Nehemiah adapted his behaviors such that his prominently displayed leadership style varied based on dynamic configurations of demands placed on him during his rebuilding efforts. As Nehemiah progressed through distinct stages of his mission, he differentially emphasized tactics associated with different styles of leadership in response to the contextual demands that were most salient during each stage.

Practical implications

Organizational leaders are presented with evidence that developing a broad repertoire of leadership behaviors is essential to guiding followers within dynamic environments.

Originality/value

This paper uses a novel historical source material to investigate contemporary leadership concepts grounded in established theoretical frameworks. Using this material, we demonstrate the applicability of various leadership styles within different contexts, and use Nehemiah as an illustration of an effective leader capable of fluidly enacting multiple leadership styles.

Keywords

Citation

Thomas, C.H., Hebdon, A.S., Novicevic, M.M. and Hayek, M.J. (2015), "Fluid leadership in dynamic contexts: A qualitative comparative analysis of the biblical account of Nehemiah", Journal of Management History, Vol. 21 No. 1, pp. 98-113. https://doi.org/10.1108/JMH-03-2013-0021

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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