• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Contingency Theories of Leadership

What makes leadership effective in a group or organization? Scholars have been preoccupied with addressing this key question perhaps since the inception of leadership as a formal field of scientific inquiry. One classic approach that gained prominence during the 1970s and 1980s is contingency theories of leadership. Contingency theories hold that leadership effectiveness is related to the interplay of a leader's traits or behaviors and situational factors.

History and Background

The contingency approach to leadership was influenced by two earlier research programs endeavoring to pinpoint effective leadership behavior. During the 1950s, researchers at Ohio State University administered extensive questionnaires measuring a range of possible leader behaviors in various organizational contexts. Although multiple sets of leadership behaviors were originally identified based on these questionnaires, two types of ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles