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Transformational leadership, corporate cultism and the spirituality paradigm: an unholy trinity in the workplace?

Tourish, Dennis; Pinnington, Ashly

Authors

Dennis Tourish

Ashly Pinnington



Abstract

Leadership is a perennially popular topic in the academic and practitioner literature on management. In particular, the past twenty years have witnessed an explosive growth of interest in what has been termed ˜transformational leadership (henceforth, TL). The theory is closely linked to the growth in what has been defined as corporate culturism “ an emphasis on the importance of coherent cultures, as a means of securing competitive advantage. This paper outlines the central components of TL theory, and subjects the concept to a critical analysis. In particular, similarities are identified between the components concerned and the characteristics of leadership practice in organizations generally defined as cults. This connection has been previously unremarked in the literature. These similarities are comprehensively reviewed. Trends towards what can be defined as corporate cultism in modern management practice are also discussed. We conclude that TL models are overly concerned with the achievement of corporate cohesion to the detriment of internal dissent. Such dissent is a vital ingredient of effective decision-making. It is suggested that more inclusive and participatory models of the leadership process are required.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Feb 2, 2002
Journal Human relations
Print ISSN 0018-7267
Electronic ISSN 1741-282X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 55
Issue 2
Pages 147-172
Institution Citation TOURISH, D. and PINNINGTON, A. 2002. Transformational leadership, corporate cultism and the spirituality paradigm: an unholy trinity in the workplace? Human relations [online], 55(2), pages 147-172. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702055002181
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702055002181
Keywords Cults; Undue social influence; Transformational / transactional influence

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