Academic Leadership: The Online Journal


Ian Hay


Since the late 1970s, the literature on leadership has featured a debate and program of research exploring relationships between transactional and transformational leadership. To some degree, this work was given an impetus by both the search for appropriate leadership strategies within the increasingly turbulent, unstable and competitive post-World War 2 economic, geopolitical and social environment (Simic, 1998) and the declining significance of the pre-existing ‘social contract’ which had implied long-term employment in return for loyalty (Griffin, 2003). With the apparent demise of a transaction fundamental to organizational leadership and an emerging context of organizational volatility came the search to better understand the leaderships of stability and of change; and the leaderships of contract and of values. This short paper reviews current understandings of these approaches to leadership. It distinguishes between transactional leadership (characterised here as the leadership of stability and exchange) and transformational leadership (the leadership of values and volatility), setting out their similarities, key differences, and relationship to one another.


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