Jessica Dinh, Robert Lord, and their colleagues recently published a most interesting study in The Leadership Quarterly. They examined the top ten academic journals that published leadership research for a ten year period, 2000-2012. The top three journals were The Leadership Quarterly (442 articles), Journal of Applied Psychology (125), and the Academy of Management Journal (45).
The researchers found 752 leadership research articles. They then analyzed each one, categorizing the study as to the leadership theory or theories studied. Their article includes a detailed, comprehensive table identifying 41 established leadership theories and 26 emerging theories, 67 overall. The leadership theories listed most frequently in the studies were:
- transformational (20%)
- traits (16%)
- leader-member exchange (15%)
- Authentic leadership (4%)
- Behavioral approaches (OSU/LBDQ) (2%)
- Servant leadership (1%)
- Path-goal theory (1%)
- Contingency leadership theory (1%)
- Yellow –Transformational leadership
- Blue – Servant Leadership
- Green – Leadership Traits
- Red – Authentic Leadership
- Purple – Leader-member Exchange
1. The classic approaches to leadership in textbooks (trait, behavioral, contingency) generate very little research today. Most of the research on these theories is historical.
2. One of the most popular leadership theories, servant leadership, generated very little research during this period. Studies of authentic leaders fared somewhat better. More research is needed on servant leadership and authentic leadership.
3. Almost 60% of the leadership studies identified in Denh et al.’s analyses were in The Leadership Quarterly, now celebrating its 25th year of publication. The Leadership Quarterly appears to be required reading for anyone who wants to stay abreast of the latest research on leadership.
Dinh, J. E., Lord, R. G., Gardner, W. L., Meuser, J. D., Liden, R. C., & Hu, J. (2014). Leadership theory and research in the new millennium: Current theoretical trends and changing perspectives. The Leadership Quarterly, 25, 36-62.
Image of trends for these leadership approaches made using Google Trends™ tool. Google and the Google logo are registered trademarks of Google Inc., used with permission. http://www.google.com/trends/explore#q=%22servant%20leadership%22%2C%20%22authentic%20leadership%22%2C%20%22transformational%20leadership%22%5C%2C%20%22leadership%20traits%22%2C%20%22leader-member%20exchange%22&date=1%2F2004%2097m&cmpt=q