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Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Approach for a Complex World by Sharon Daloz Parks

Review by: Ted K. Dass


The Academy of Management Review, Vol. 31, No. 2 (Apr., 2006), pp. 493-495
Published by: Academy of Management
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20159218 .
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2006 Book Reviews 493

tions will deal with one another in a more cul (CIP) method?developed by Ronald Heifetz and
turally intelligent fashion. his colleagues at Harvard University's John F.
Kennedy School of Government?as the ideal
way to teach it. Leadership is not entirely a
REFERENCES
matter of having the right traits. It also involves
R. S., & Moustafa, K. 2002. How non Americans view
Bhagat,
doing things; it involves behaviors. And these
American use o? time: A cross cultural perspective. In
behaviors, Parks argues, can be taught because
P. Boski, F. J.R. van der Vijver, & A. M. Chodynicka (Eds.),
New directions in cross cultural psychology: 183-192. they are activities that can be analyzed and
Warszawa, Poland: Polish Psychological Association. translated into doable tasks.

Erez, M., & Earley, P. 1993. Cultures, and work.


These ideas, of course, are not new. The skills
self-identity,
New York: Oxford University Press. approach to leadership (described in Northouse,

Goleman, D. 1995. Emotional New York: Bantam 2004) draws on the work of many, including Katz
intelligence.
Books. (1955) and Mumford, Zaccaro, Harding, Owen,
E. T. 1976. Beyond culture. New York: Anchor Books.
and Fleishman (2000), to highlight the "teach
Hall,

Hofstede, G. 2001. Culture's values,


ability" of leadership. Where Parks' book differs
consequences: Company
behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations
from the rather simplistic view of the skills ap
(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. proach is that it acknowledges the "messiness"
R. S. (Eds). 1996. Handbook of intercul
of the process of leadership and emphasizes the
Landis, D., & Bhagat,
tural training. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. importance of learning-by-doing through one's
own
Levine, R. 1997. A geography of time. New York: Basic Books. experience.
The book is an exposition of and a tribute to
Lytle, A. L., Brett, J.M., Barsness, Z. I., Tinsley, C. H., &
M. 1995. A paradigm for confirmatory cross
the CIP method for teaching leadership. Briefly,
Janssens,
cultural research in organizational behavior. Research CIP is based broadly on a variety of well
in Organizational Behavior, 17: 167-214. established teaching techniques, such as semi
Ward, C, Bochner, S., & Furnham, A. 2001. The psychology of nars, simulations, lectures, readings, films, dis
culture shock (2nd ed.). Hove, UK: Routledge. cussion and dialogue, clinical-therapeutic
practice, coaching, and case studies. The CIP
approach gets students to engage in a variety of
small group activities (designed to simulate the
Leadership Can Be Taught: A Bold Ap real world), and it gets students to focus reflex
a
proach lor Complex World, by Sharon ively on their experiences in these activities as
Daloz Parks. Boston: Harvard Business a basis for learning about leadership. According
School Press, 2005. to conventional wisdom, students have to have
real world experience before they can really
Reviewed by Ted K. Dass, University of Cincinnati, profit from leadership courses. That's not the
Cincinnati, Ohio. way Parks sees it:
What goes on in the classroom itself is an occa
Leadership seems to have tremendous stay sion for
learning and practicing leadership
ing power. It has been the subject of human within a social group. The class is recognized as
fascination and study throughout history. De a social system inevitably made up of a number
the voluminous attention it has received, of different factions and acted on by multiple
spite
forces.... The teacher has a set of ideas and
there is still no consensus even on the most
frameworks to offer. But instead of presenting a
basic, fundamental issues.
The very definition or a written case
lecture, starting with from an
of leadership, for example, remains a matter of other context that may or may not be relevant to
some controversy. What, then, are teachers to do the learning of the people in class, the teacher
in the classroom? There seems to be a never waits for a case to appear in the process of the
class itself.... Then the teacher works to use it to
ending supply of students who are eager to be illustrate the theme, concept, or skill that he or
come leaders. But can leadership be taught? If
she is trying to present (pp. 7-8).
so, which pedagogical techniques are most ef
fective? The CIP method is anchored in a framework
Sharon Parks' book attempts to answer these that makes four critical distinctions (pp. 9-11).
questions. Parks argues that leadership can in First, it distinguishes between authority and
deed be taught, and she touts the case-in-point leadership: the former is derived from formal

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494 Academy of Management Review April

resources, such as the position of a person in an that about half of 165 students who had taken
organization; the latter involves the mobiliza the CIP course believed the method to be "more
tion of people to address tough problems. Sec useful" or "much more useful" than other Har
ond, it distinguishes between technical prob vard courses, and "most useful" or "much more
lems that can be solved with knowledge and useful" than previous leadership or manage
processes already known versus adaptive chal ment training. But this evidence is neither sys
lenges that require learning, innovation, and tematic nor
persuasive.
new patterns of behavior. Third, it distinguishes to avoid
It is hard the feeling that the author
between power and progress; itmeasures lead stacked the evidence in favor of her arguments.
ership effectiveness in terms of progress made When limitations of the method are discussed,
in addressing substantive issues rather than in they are explained away by arguing that the
the mere use of power and influence. And fourth, method, after all, is difficult to adopt completely.
it distinguishes between personality and pres The book seems to avoid dealing with published
ence; it sees leadership as depending less on criticisms of the CIP method, such as this one
charisma or heroism than on skillful interven offered by Andrew Leigh of the John F. Kennedy
tion in complex systems. School of Government:
The book into ten chapters. The first
is divided
The greatest problem with the theory of adaptive
six describe the key features of the CIP method
leadership is that itpresumes that each problem
of teaching through narratives using actual ses atic reality has its own right answer, which will
become clear to all participants ifonly they focus
sions conducted by Ron Heifetz. In the seventh
on the underlying issues. Heifetz and Linsky ap
chapter Parks includes a conversation between
pear to believe that all problems have an inher
Heifetz and herself that details the evolution of ent is to search for it. Miss
truth?the challenge
the CIP method. In the eighth chapter Parks
ing almost entirely is the recognition that many
seeks to address the issue of transferability of problems have no "right" answer?and are them
sets ....
the pedagogy to other settings, academic levels, selves the product of differing of values

and teachers. The ninth chapter proposes a re What happens when adaptive leadership con
fronts relativism? What ifwe believe that indi
vamping of the way leadership has been stud
viduals' criteria for judgment can vary with time,
ied and described so far in traditional literature, circumstance, and culture? (Leigh, 2003: 348).
and it invites the reader to reframe leadership
as "artistry" because this better captures the In conclusion, although this book provides an
essence of the theory of adaptive engaging introduction to the theory of adaptive
leadership
that the CIP method intends to teach. And, fi leadership and the CIP method, it seems to offer
little in the way of new theoretical, empirical, or
nally, in the tenth chapter Parks summarizes the
and weaknesses of the CIP pedagogical insights. The book would have
strengths approach.
This book has an easy and engaging been stronger had support for the theory of
style. It
seems to be aimed at a broad audience of aca adaptive leadership and the CIP method been
the developed more fully and examined more rigor
demics and business consultants. However,
extent towhich this book is a useful addition to ously. There is more work here to be done, and
this book will provoke someone into
the vast number of books on the topic of leader perhaps
ship already in existence is unclear. Ron Heifetz doing it.
has already written about the CIP method and
the theory of adaptive in various ar
leadership REFERENCES
ticles and books (e.g., Heifetz & Linsky, 2002).
Heifetz, R. A., & Linsky, M.2002. Leadership on the line:
An intended distinctive contribution of this
Staying alive through the dangers of leading. Boston:
book seems to be the assessment it offers of the Harvard Business School Press.
effectiveness of CIP as a tool for teaching lead
Katz, R. L. 1955. Skills of an effective administrator. Harvard
ership in the classroom. This assessment seems
Business Review, 33(1): 33-42.
to be based on evidence gathered from class
Leigh, A. 2003. Review of Leadership on the line: Staying
room observations, personal anecdotes, and
alive through the dangers of leading: By Ronald A. Heif
conversations with past graduates of Heifetz's etz and Marty Linsky. Boston, MA: Harvard Business

leadership course. The book does mention a pre School Press. 2002. 241 pp. Leadership Quarterly, 14:

assessment of the CIP 347-349.


viously published survey
method, conducted back in 1989, which found Mumford, M. D., Zaccaro, S. J.,Harding, F. D., Owen J. T., &

This content downloaded from 185.2.32.109 on Fri, 13 Jun 2014 10:23:20 AM


All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
2006 Book Reviews 495

Fleishman, E. A. 2000. Leadership skills for a changing Business Pioneers?Macro-Level


Research,
world: Solving complex problems. Leadership Quar
Analysis, Pioneers?Micro-Level Analysis, and
terly, 11: 11-35.
Epilogue. Consistent with the primary (histori
Northouse, P. 2004. Leadership: Theory and practice (3rd ed.).
cal-doctrinal) aim, in the first part of the book
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Landstr?m concentrates on key conceptual is
sues and debates that have historically charac
terized and confronted entrepreneurship and
small business researchers. Therefore, these
Pioneers in Entrepreneurship and Small
chapters are most likely to be of interest to any
Business Research, by Hans Landstr?m. one who would like to gain a sense of the cur
New York: Springer Science+Business rent central debates in the field and the field's
Media, 2005. ongoing evolution over time.
One such debate has to do with a definition of
Reviewed by Mark T. Schenkel, Belmont University, the field itself. Various conceptual definitions
Nashville, Tennessee. have been proposed over the years. Landstr?m's
position on this long-standing definitional de
Entrepreneurial is growing at a fever
activity bate is that entrepreneurship is inherently com
ish rate around the globe
(Acs, Arenius, Hay, & plex, vague, and changeable, and it is rooted in
Minniti, 2005); it has even
taken root in the tra many different disciplines. He therefore argues
ditionally inhospitable soil of such communist that "it is reasonable to expect that our defini
nations as China (Dickson, 2003). Scholarly in tions of the concept will also be ambiguous and
terest in entrepreneurship has also been grow changeable," and he questions "whether or not
ing, as evidenced by the increasing number of it is reasonable to sustain the dream of a unified
entrepreneurship articles being published in science" (p. 21).While such a pluralistic position
"top-tier" journals such as the Academy ofMan inherently is subject to the criticism that it does
agement Journal (Ireland, Reutzel, & Webb, 2005). little to foster paradigm development, it does fit
This growth in entrepreneurship research has led nicely with the central purpose of the book. More
to an interest in how the field got its start and how important, it provides Landstr?m a mechanism
it has evolved over the years. Landstr?m's Pio for discussing the concepts, ideas, and theories
neers in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Re fromwhich readers can draw to challenge con
search represents a first step toward a fuller un ventional assumptions and to develop critical
derstanding of the field's origin and development. insights.
Its central aim is to "provide a historical-doctrinal In Chapter 2 Landstr?m describes the central
[i.e., a body of teachings] review of the develop theoretical roots of entrepreneurship and small
ment of entrepreneurship and small business re business research. The chapter begins with a
search as well as presenting some of the research discussion of how individuals in the economic
ers who created and shaped the field?the sciences (e.g., Richard Cantillon) initially at
pioneers of entrepreneurship and small business tempted to "endow the concept of entrepreneur
research" (p. xi). ship with greater scientific meaning" as they "fo
This book attempts "to reflect on the knowledge cused on the function of the entrepreneur" (p. 28).
acquired through research in order to establish a After describing the transition, around the end of
basis for furtherdevelopment" (p. xi).What is note the nineteenth century, in the focus of economic
worthy is the ease with which the author creates science from macroeconomic considerations to
order in a body of research that is often character microeconomic ones, Chapter 2 goes on to provide
ized as suffering from "the awkwardness of ado a rich and informative discussion about the con
lescence" (Low, 2001: 23). The book also addresses tributions of influential economists from the Aus
the persistent criticism that "much of the research trian tradition (e.g., Carl Menger, Joseph Schum
[in entrepreneurship] has either lacked clarity of peter, and Israel Kirzner)?contributions that
purpose or the specified purpose was of little con provide the foundation for
much contemporary en
sequence" (Low & MacMillan, 1988: 141). It is, trepreneurship research.
therefore, likely to draw wide interest. It is at this point in the book that one develops
The book is formally organized into fourmajor a full appreciation for how far the field has
parts: A History of Entrepreneurship and Small come, despite the "struggles" that "have had a

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