Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Peirce and Newstrom's: Leaders and the Leadership Process

The thing that strikes me about the book is that a lot of the readings seem dated. For example, looking at a chapter on trait theory:

There has to have been a lot of studies furthering the standardization of trait description, maybe looking at active leadership while a participant is an fMRI machine, or something, but there is something else.  The first reading for today's classes are about the meaning (or absence of meaning) of various traits that disprove a "great man" theory of leadership. The thing is written in 1991.  That was in the middle of the first Bush recession that would lead to the Clinton / tech expansion (bubble). Here's the thing -- context matters in the proces. We've had at least two world-changing events in the almost 25 years since this was written: 9/11 and the financial crisis of 2008. Traits matter, but are there traits that are more useful now than 20 years ago?  I can think that maybe consensus-building may be more important now than then. When they brought back Wall Street for a sequal, Gordon Gekko wasn't a figure to be emulated for his lone-wolf ways.  Maybe now is a time we need leadership more than ever.

Basically, my feeling is that I way over-paid for this book, and it is representative of the problems with the college text book industry as a whole.

Another case in point.  I spent the last two years clearing some classes to build a foundation for my MBA classes. In many cases, the book was almost as expensive as the tuition of the class. Granted, I was at a community college, but still. These were two or three hundred dollar books once you had the all-important access code to break down the door of the electronic problem sets and the like.  I think I want to see the MOOCs come and disrupt this paradigm, but I also like the face-to-face interaction  of a community of scholars.

Thankfully I have that in my current class, because this book doesn't feel like its adding much.