Effective Leadership in Public Organizations: The Impact of Organizational Structure in Asian Countries

  • Valero, Jesus N. (Department of Public Administration, University of North Texas)
  • Published : 2015.10.31


Among public organizations, does variation in organizational structure explain variation in public managers' leadership styles (e.g., transformational and transactional leadership)? The study of leadership in public organizations is increasingly an area of scholarly interest partly sparked by movements to reform public organizations, particularly in the context of emergency management. There is, for example, a need for effective leadership that can help organizations respond to disasters (Kapucu et al. 2010; Van Wart and Kapucu 2011; Stern 2013). There are numerous documented cases where the lack of leadership skills has been linked to major social and economic losses as a result of poor disaster response (e.g., Hurricane Katrina in the U.S.). Yet, leadership is a complex concept and numerous theoretical frameworks have been developed to help explain it (Van Wart 2005). Practically speaking, the existence of different theories of leadership suggests that public managers can decide to exercise various styles of leadership. The style of leadership that a public manager exhibits matters because some styles are perceived to be more effective than others (Trottier et al. 2008). While the effects of leadership have been extensively studied, antecedents or predictors of leadership style have received little scholarly attention (Wright and Pandey 2009; Nielsen and Cleal 2011). The purpose of this research note then is to explore the potential causal relationship between the structure of an organization and the ability of a public manager to exercise transformational leadership in the context of emergency management in two Asian countries: South Korea and Japan. This research note consists of three main sections. The following section explores the relationship between leadership and organizational structure. The second section examines how certain concepts of leadership and organizational structure were applied in two case studies of disaster response. The final section presents some directions for future research.



  1. Asia-Pacific Disaster Management: Comparative and Socio-Legal Perspectives. Heidelberg: Springer, 2014.
  2. Avolio, Bruce J., and Bernard M. Bass. Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire. Third Edition ed.: Mind Garden, Inc., 2004.
  3. Bass, Bernard M., and Bruce J. Avolio. "Improving Organizational Effectiveness through Trans-formational Leadership." Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 1994.
  4. Behn, Robert D. "What Right Do Public Managers Have to Leader?". Public Administration Re-view 58, no. 3 (1998): 209-24.
  5. Borins, Sandford. "Loose Cannons and Rule Breakers, or Enterprising Leaders? some Evidence About Innovative Public Managers." Public Administration Review 60, no. 6 (2000): 498-507.
  6. Bozeman, Barry. "A Theory of Government "Red Tape"." Journal of Public Administration Re-search and Theory: J-PART 3, no. 3 (1993): 273-303.
  7. Bozeman, Barry, and Patrick Scott. "Bureaucratic Red Tape and Formalization: Untangling Con-ceptual Knots." American Review of Public Administration 26, no. 1 (1996): 1-17.
  8. Brewer, Gene A., and Richard M. Walker. "The Impact of Red Tape on Governmental Perfor-mance: An Empirical Analysis." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20, no. 1 (2010): 233-57.
  9. DeHart-Davis, Leisha, and Sanjay K. Pandey. "Red Tape and Public Employees: Does Perceived Rule Dysfunction Alienate Managers." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 15, no. 1 (2005): 133-48.
  10. Ingraham, Patricia Wallace, and Heather Getha-Taylor. "Leadership in the Public Sector: Models and Assumptions for Leadership Development in the Federal Government." Review of Public Personnel Administration 24, no. 2 (2004): 95-112.
  11. Jung, Chan Su. "Navigating a Rough Terrain of Public Management: Examining the Relationship between Organization Size and Effectiveness." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 23, no. 2 (2012): 1-24.
  12. Jung, Chan Su, and Seok Eun Kim. "Structure and Perceived Performance in Public Organiza-tions." Public Management Review (2013): 1-23.
  13. Kapucu, Naim, Tolga Arslan, and Matthew L. Collins. "Examining Intergovernmental and Inter-organizational Response to Catastrophic Disasters: Toward a Network-Centered Ap-proach." Administration and Society 42, no. 2 (2010): 222-47.
  14. Kevin, Rafferty. "Japan's Immense Challenge." Japan Times, The (Tokyo, Japan), March 17 2011.
  15. Koehler, Jerry W., and Joseph M. Pankowski. Transformational Leadership in Government. Delray Beach, Florida: St. Lucie Press, 1997.
  16. Nielsen, Karina, and Bryan Cleal. "Under Which Conditions Do Middle Managers Exhibit Transformational Leadership Behaviors? an Experience Sampling Method Study on the Predictors of Transformational Leadership Behaviors." The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011): 344-52.
  17. Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. 5th ed. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications, 2010.
  18. Oberfield, Zachary W. "Public Management in Time: A Longitudinal Examination of the Full Range of Leadership Theory." Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory (2012).
  19. Osborne, David, and Ted Gaebler. Reinventing Government: How the Entrepreneurial Spirit Is Transforming the Public Sector. New York: Penguin Group, 1992.
  20. Rainey, Hal G. Understanding and Managing Public Organizations. 4th ed. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2009.
  21. Rosen, Bernard. Holding Government Bureuacracies Accountable. 3rd ed. Westport, CT: Praeger Publishers, 1998.
  22. Shafritz, Jay M., E. W. Russell, and Christopher P. Borick. Introducing Public Administration. 5th Edition ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007.
  23. Stern, Eric. "Preparing: The Sixth Task of Crisis Leadership." Journal of Leadership Studies 7, no. 3 (2013): 51-56.
  24. Trottier, Tracey, Montgomery Van Warf, and Xiaohu Wang. "Examining the Nature and Signifi-cance of Leadership in Government Organizations." Public Administration Review, no. March-April (2008): 319-33.
  25. Valero, Jesus N., Kyujin Jung, and Simon A. Andrew. "Does Transformational Leadership Build Resilient Public and Nonprofit Organizations?". Disaster Prevention and Management 23, no. 5 (2014).
  26. Van Wart, Montgomery. Dynamics of Leadership in Public Service: Theory and Practice. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 2005.
  27. Van Wart, Montgomery, and Naim Kapucu. "Crisis Management Competencies: The Case of Emergency Managers in the Usa." Public Management Review 13, no. 4 (2011): 489-511.
  28. Walker, Richard M., and Gene A. Brewer. "An Organizational Echelon Analysis of the Determi-nants of Red Tape in Public Organizations." Public Administration Review 68, no. 6 (2008): 1112-27.
  29. Walker, Richard M., and Gene A. Brewer. "Can Management Strategy Minimize the Impact of Red Tape on Organizational Per-formance?". Administration & Society 41, no. 4 (2009): 423-48.
  30. Wright, Bradley E., Donald P. Moynihan, and Sanjay K. Pandey. "Pulling the Levers: Transfor-mational Leadership, Public Service Motivation, and Mission Valence." Public Administra-tion Review 72, no. 2 (2012): 206-15.
  31. Wright, Bradley E., and Sanjay K. Pandey. "Transformational Leadership in the Public Sector: Does Structure Matter?". Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory 20 (2009): 75-89.

Cited by

  1. Big data analysis of local government 3.0: Focusing on Gyeongsangbuk-do in Korea vol.110, pp.None, 2015,
  2. The individual influence factors of voluntary turnover among knowledge workers in China: A case study of Huawei vol.16, pp.2, 2015,
  3. The Relationship Between Information-Sharing and Resource-Sharing Networks in Environmental Policy Governance: Focusing on Germany and Japan vol.17, pp.2, 2015,
  4. Impact of e-leadership and team dynamics on virtual team performance in a public organization vol.34, pp.5, 2015,