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An exploratory qualitative case study of leadership practices within Iranian private companies

Dissertation
Author: Behkam Aminzadeh
Abstract:
The current qualitative phenomenological case study was conducted to explore leadership practices of senior executives in private Iranian engineering firms within the oil industry. Eleven in-depth interviews were conducted to explore participant leadership experiences and to identify the educational, professional, organizational, and sociological factors that are perceived to affect the practice of leadership. The interview responses were coded and analyzed using NVivo8. Research findings identified five leadership development themes: (a) training (b) perception and knowledge, (c) responsibility and collaboration, (d) culture, and (e) empowerment. Five themes essential to successful leadership also emerged: (a) communication, (b) ethics, (c) creativity and critical thinking, (d) integrity and trust, and (e) vision and strategy. The study findings have potential implications for Iranian organizational leadership and leadership development. A model for organizational communication, that incorporates all of the leadership themes identified in the study, is advanced for possible adoption by leadership practitioners, or to be explored in future research studies.

TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................. xiii

LIST OF FIGURES ........................................................................................... xiv

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION ......................................................................... 1

Background of the Problem .................................................................................. 1

Statement of the Problem ...................................................................................... 4

Purpose of the Study ............................................................................................. 5

Significance of the Study ...................................................................................... 7

Nature of the Study ............................................................................................... 9

Research Questions ............................................................................................. 12

Theoretical Framework ....................................................................................... 13

Definition of Terms............................................................................................. 15

Assumptions ........................................................................................................ 18

Scope ................................................................................................................... 19

Limitations .......................................................................................................... 19

Delimitations ....................................................................................................... 19

Summary ............................................................................................................. 20

CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW ............................................................ 22

Documentation .................................................................................................... 22

Literature Review................................................................................................ 23

Leadership ........................................................................................................... 24

Definition of Leadership .............................................................................. 24

Historical Overview ..................................................................................... 25

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Leadership and Vision ............................................................................... 25

Leadership and Culture ............................................................................. 26

Leadership and Values .............................................................................. 27

Leadership Development .................................................................................... 27

Leadership as a Catalyst for Change/Sustainability .................................... 28

Historical Overview ..................................................................................... 28

Leadership and Strategy ............................................................................ 28

Team Building and Training ..................................................................... 29

Managing Unexpected Events ................................................................... 29

Developing a Culture of Trust Strategy .................................................... 30

Improving Respect .................................................................................... 31

Assessing Leadership Effectiveness and Efficiency, Leadership Sustainability 31

Factors in Evaluating Leadership ................................................................ 31

Historical Overview ..................................................................................... 32

Innovation .................................................................................................. 33

Communication ......................................................................................... 35

Listening .................................................................................................... 36

Motivation ................................................................................................. 36

Iranian Leadership .............................................................................................. 37

Historical Overview ..................................................................................... 37

Iran as an Emerging State ............................................................................ 38

Privatization .............................................................................................. 39

Privatization in Iran ................................................................................... 39

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Leadership Behaviors of a Successful Privatized Company ..................... 40

Contribution of Leadership to Economic Viability and Sustainability ..... 41

Current Leadership Theories ............................................................................... 41

Trait Theories ............................................................................................... 42

Contingency Theories .................................................................................. 42

Transformational Leadership ....................................................................... 43

Behavioral Theories ..................................................................................... 44

Situational Leadership ................................................................................. 44

Servant Leadership ...................................................................................... 45

Transactional Leadership ............................................................................. 46

Emerging Global Leadership Theories ........................................................ 47

Gaps in the Literature.......................................................................................... 47

Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 49

Summary ............................................................................................................. 51

CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS ............................................................ 53

Research Method and Design Appropriateness .................................................. 53

Research Method ....................................................................................... 54

Method Appropriateness ........................................................................... 55

Research Questions ............................................................................................. 56

Population, Sampling, and Data Collection Procedures and Rationale .............. 56

Population .................................................................................................. 56

Informed Consent ...................................................................................... 58

Confidentiality ........................................................................................... 58

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Geographic Location ................................................................................. 59

Data Collection .......................................................................................... 59

Conducting Interviews .............................................................................. 60

Type of Data .............................................................................................. 60

Rational for Type of Data Collected ......................................................... 60

Pilot Test ................................................................................................... 60

Validity and Credibility ............................................................................. 61

Data Analysis ...................................................................................................... 62

Organization and Clarity ..................................................................................... 62

Summary ............................................................................................................. 63

CHAPTER 4: PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS OF DATA ....................... 65

Pilot Study ........................................................................................................... 65

Data Collection Procedures ................................................................................. 66

Population Demographics ................................................................................... 69

Data Analysis Procedures ................................................................................... 72

Findings............................................................................................................... 75

Summary ............................................................................................................. 91

CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ...................... 93

Pilot Study ........................................................................................................... 93

Summary of Findings .......................................................................................... 94

Leadership Development ............................................................................. 95

Theme 1: Training ..................................................................................... 95

Theme 2: Perception and Knowledge ....................................................... 96

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Theme 3: Responsibility and Collaboration .............................................. 97

Theme 4: Culture ....................................................................................... 98

Theme 5: Empowerment ........................................................................... 99

Leadership Success .................................................................................... 100

Theme 6: Communication ....................................................................... 100

Theme 7: Ethics ....................................................................................... 101

Theme 8: Creativity and Critical Thinking ............................................. 102

Theme 9: Integrity and Trust ................................................................... 102

Theme 10: Vision and Strategy ............................................................... 103

Significance of Findings ................................................................................... 104

Recommendations ............................................................................................. 111

Suggestions for Further Research............................................................ 111

Recommendations for Organizational Leaders. ...................................... 112

Summary and Conclusion ................................................................................. 114

REFERENCES ................................................................................................. 117

APPENDIX A: METHODOLOGY MAP ........................................................ 128

APPENDIX B: PERMISSION TO USE PREMISES ...................................... 129

APPENDIX C: INFORMED CONSENT ......................................................... 131

APPENDIX E: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS .................................................... 137

APPENDIX F: LITERATURE MATRIX ........................................................ 139

APPENDIX G: IRAN ....................................................................................... 144

APPENDIX H: DEMOGRAPHIC DATA ....................................................... 150

APPENDIX I: SUPPLEMENT INFORMATION FOR PARTCICIPANTS ... 151

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APPENDIX J: LEADERSHIP STRENGTHS ................................................. 154

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LIST OF TABLES Table 1

Demographic Characteristics of Research Participants- Age……..…...69 Table 2 Demographic Characteristics of Research Participants- Leadership Positions……………………………………………..….….70 Table 3 Demographic Characteristics of Research Participants- Level of Education……………………………………………..……..….71 Table 4 Demographic Characteristics of Research Participants- Years of Work Experience…………………………………………..……72 Table 5 Words Most Frequently Used When Defining Leadership…….……..….78 Table 6 Desired Leadership Skills and Competencies………………………....…85 Table 7 Leadership Development Factors……………………………..….….…..87 Table 8 Words Most Frequently Used When Describing Western Leadership…………………………….………………….….….90

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LIST OF FIGURES Figure 1. Leadership style distribution………………………………………..…81 Figure 2. Communication model based on study participant responses………..109

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION Pursuant to article 44 of the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran (1979), the Iranian economy consists of three sectors: state, co-operative, and private. Excessively dependent on oil exports as the most important source of income, state companies control 80% of the Iranian economy (Dadvar, 2007; Ganji, 2008; Ilias, 2008). To correct this imbalance, in June 2006, the government initiated a considerable privatization plan (Dadvar, 2007). For the newly privatized companies to be efficient, effective, sustainable, and economically viable, leadership within the companies must overcome lack of requisite skills, competencies, and knowledge (State Role in Privatization, 2007). The purpose of the current qualitative phenomenological case study was to explore leadership practices within one small sector of the private economy –Iranian engineering firms in the oil industry. The research goals were to describe and understand leadership practices of executives and to identify educational, professional, organizational, and sociological factors that are perceived to affect leadership.

Chapter 1 includes an overview of the research study and offers a discussion of the problem, purpose, methods, and design of the study. Prominent theories that guided the research are addressed in the theoretical framework, followed by a definition of terms and a discussion of the assumptions, scope, limitations, and delimitations of the study. Key points are recapped in the summary that segues to chapter 2. Background of the Problem From 1979 to 2003, Iran’s economy experienced many challenges caused by revolution, war, and reconstruction.

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This revolution had a major impact on the development of human resource management in Iran, as it changed the entire structure of the country. The monarchy was replaced with an Islamic republic, technocrats were replaced by ideologists, and a competent and skilled workforce was replaced with a loyal workforce. Competencies and management skills were not seen as a priority; rather, significance was paid to putting loyal and ideologically sound employees into key management and strategic positions. Human resource management and indeed Western management concepts were no longer deemed suitable or necessary, thus leaving a sudden gender and professional gap in the management structure. (Namazie & Frame, 2007, p. 161) In 2007, Namazie and Frame reported state management of the economy to be a major challenge. Estimated to control 80% of the economy, state run operations were unproductive due to ineffective management (Dadvar, 2007). The state continued to be the key employer within Iran. To decrease the government’s stake in operating companies and to reconstruct the economy, Iran’s fourth Five-Year Plan (2005–10) directed the privatization of industries such as banking, telecommunications, petrochemicals, and steel (Dadvar, 2007). Authors of the plan envisioned increased industrial effectiveness, corporate successes, and creation of an aggressive and competitive environment. If successful, the plan would foster a culture of free enterprise. Iran is rich in resources and possesses 10% of the world’s oil reserves and controls the world’s second largest natural gas reserves (Ardestani & Shafie-Pour, 2009; Namazie & Frame, 2007). Oil and gas represent a major segment of Iran’s economy.

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Governmental leaders have privatized some of the state-run oil and gas corporations by allowing investors to buy shares (Khajehpour, 2000). Iranian leaders are attempting to expand the economy further by investing some of its oil revenues in other areas including petrochemicals (Ambitious Oil Sector Plans, 2004). Leaders of the National Petrochemical Company (NPC) decided to privatize more than 50% of NPC’s shares of petrochemical projects over a period of 10 years. “While the oil income seems to be a continual illness of the Iranian economy, it is clear that the main challenge in dealing with the overall illness is to effectively privatize the country's economy and focus on leadership” (Khajehpour, 2000, para 5). Without competent leadership, the economic failures of the past are likely to be repeated. Some of Iran’s economic challenges include financial mismanagement, large dependence on oil and gasoline industries, and high levels of unemployment and inflation (Ilias, 2008). The Iranian private sector could play an important role in developing visionary and innovative leaders who positively affect economic growth (Khajehpour, 2000). A better understanding of leadership practices in private companies might help improve the Iranian economy. Effective leaders set direction and motivate, inspire, and align people (Bakotié, 2008; Savage & Sales, 2008). Leaders promote learning organizations by encouraging employees to develop their abilities and skills. A critical leadership competency is analyzing how organizations respond to changes in their internal and external environments (Jones, 2004). Proactive leadership can enhance an organization’s effectiveness.

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Limited research literature was found that specifically addressed Iranian leadership or Iranian senior executive leadership competencies. The results of the current study might add to the body of knowledge of Iranian leadership behaviors and its relevance to economic development in Iran. Such knowledge might accelerate leadership development efforts in Iran and enhance selection and development of effective leaders within the Iranian oil industry. Statement of the Problem High international oil prices and Iran’s gross domestic product (GDP) help ensure that Iran maintains strong current-account surpluses (Amuzegar, 2009). Iran possesses enormous natural resources and maintains relatively steady GDP growth. The country’s economy is largely dependent upon the state-owned oil companies, which are generally mismanaged (Khajehpour, 2000; Namazie & Frame, 2007; Yeganeh & Su, 2007).The problem is little is known about leadership practices within the private sector and whether Iranian leaders are capable of leading corporations to efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, and economic viability (State Role in Privatization, 2007). The public sector leadership model is characterized by inefficiency and centralized authority and power at the top. Leaders in newly privatized corporations must move from the public sector model to a leadership model of decentralized management (Abbas & Amirshahrian 2002) able to meet the challenges of leading complex organizations (Bolman & Deal, 2003). Medhim (2007) asserted that exploring and understanding current Iranian leadership practices may benefit organizations struggling with privatization.

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Leadership development is essential within modern successful corporations (Foster, 2006). By following through on privatization plans, the Iranian government hopes to improve leadership and management competencies. “Over the last twenty years, successful countries have initiated programs of economic privatization and liberalization, but Iran has done the opposite, marching backwards for about fifteen years, and then slowly and gingerly starting to reverse this process” (Askari, 2004, p. 655). Purpose of the Study The purpose of the qualitative phenomenological case study was to explore leadership practices of senior executives in private Iranian engineering firms operating within the oil industry. The current research study was conducted to identify the educational, professional, organizational, and sociological factors that are perceived to affect the practice of leadership. Mosadegh Rad and Yarmohammadian (2006) defined organizations as social systems that need effective leaders to attain their objectives. Leadership development establishes an understanding and perspective of leadership mechanisms within organizations and their alliance with the organization’s strategic plan (Avolio & Bass, 2004; Tubbs & Schulz, 2006). “Organizational success in obtaining its goals and objectives depends on managers and their leadership style. By using appropriate leadership styles, managers can affect commitment and productivity” (Mosadegh Rad & Yarmohammadian, 2006, para 7). The current study was designed (see Appendix A – Methodology Map) to investigate the leadership practices of senior executives of private engineering firms operating in the Iranian oil industry. Little information was available about leadership practices within private Iranian organizations. The current study was conducted to

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explore a process had not been previously examined, rendering a qualitative phenomenological case study design appropriate for the research (Creswell, 2005). Data gathered through in-depth interviews with senior leaders were analyzed to identify emerging leadership themes and factors affecting leadership practices. Another purpose of the current research was to provide additional information about leadership knowledge by exploring the leadership experiences of Iranian leaders working in private engineering companies. Senior executives from private Iranian engineering firms operating within the oil industry located in Tehran were interviewed. The senior executives of those companies were solicited from a client and shareholder roster of Hampa Engineering. Hampa Engineering granted permission to access the client and shareholder list (see Appendix B) and served as a gatekeeper (Creswell, 2007) to guide the interviewer to those companies most willing to participate in the research. Eleven individuals volunteered to participate. According to Creswell (2005), “in convenience sampling the researcher selects participants because they are willing and available to be studied” (p.149). The current sampling method used was purposeful convenience sampling. For months after Iran’s presidential election in June 2009, Iranians experienced tension resulting from street protests and government crackdowns (Daragahi & Mostaghim, 2009). Under such conditions most executives worry about their situation. A face-to-face contact with individuals prior to securing permissions and access was needed. Hampa Engineering facilitated introductions to oil engineering firms within Tehran. When access to a company was granted, an authority within the company was

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asked for permission to use the premises and requested to sign a permission letter or Consent Form (see Appendix C). The analysis of data consisted of finding meaningful and useful information within large amounts of data (Creswell, 2005). The factors identified by the participants emerged as leadership themes generated using NVivo8 software and further identified as positive leadership influencers or negative leadership influencers. NVivo8 software is used to group words or phrases into categories. To gain a profound understanding of the participants, data from the qualitative phenomenological case study were collected, analyzed, and triangulated. Triangulation is the method of confirming proof from various individuals and forms or methods of data gathering in descriptions and themes (Creswell, 2005). For the current research study, triangulation consisted of the research data, the pilot test, and member checking (Creswell, 2007). The purpose of triangulating the data was to compare the resulting themes from the interviews. Triangulation also serves to validate the findings from the various analyses (Creswell, 2005; Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Significance of the Study Privatization of state-owned firms has a constructive and considerable impact on economic growth (Al-Obaiden, 2002). Privatization decreases the role and function of state firms in an economy. Privatization is a way to increase investment and improve systems to be more efficient and cost effective (Garcia-Zamor & Noll, 2009; Glomm & Mendez, 2009; Sariolghalam, 2008). Effects of privatization have been experienced in countries such as England, Germany, Turkey, and Argentina (Garcia-Zamor & Noll, 2009; Glomm & Mendez, 2009; Sariolghalam, 2008).

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The economy of Iran is unstable. Iranian government leaders estimated that 80% of the economy remains unproductive in the hands of state officials (Dadvar, 2007). To increase private sector development, the Iranian regime is trying to privatize the country's economy and find ways to implement article 44 of the Iranian constitution (Khajehpour, 2000). With the government move toward privatization and the important role that oil plays in Iran’s economy, the role of private companies could become increasingly more important. Privatization decreases the responsibility of state-owned enterprises in a national economy. Privatization increases effectiveness and successes, creates an aggressive and competitive environment, and supports a culture of free enterprise (Khajehpour, 2000). The results of the current study might be used to identify the leadership practices that do and do not work in a privatized company. New knowledge may help leaders of private engineering firms to understand leadership better, identify problems associated with ineffective leadership, and develop strategies to become more effective leaders. A leader’s behavior can affect the behavior of those who follow (Davis & Rothstein, 2006; Simmons, 2002; Zhu, May, & Avolio, 2004). Vision, innovation, and creative abilities are essential traits for effective leaders. Such traits allow individuals in leadership positions to work harmoniously with followers and other organizational leaders (Davis & Rothstein, 2006). The current research may add to the knowledge of Iranian leadership practices. The information could be used in future studies of leadership in privatized and private companies within Iran. The findings of the current study may offer a better understanding of Iranian leadership practices and their affect on economic development.

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Bass (1990) stated that "leadership in foreign countries or in cross-cultural situations within a country requires a deep, careful study of the culture, history, prospects, and working environment" (p. 55). To comprehend leadership in a country, referring to that country’s culture may be useful. Some behaviors, attributes, causes, and effects are common among different countries, but some elements tend to be more concentrated in some cultures and countries than in others (Bass, 1990). Tradition and cultural institutions such as religion and family have an extreme impact on the Iranian culture (Yasin et al., 2002, cited in Namazie & Frame, 2007). Nature of the Study The purpose of the current qualitative phenomenological case study was to explore the leadership practices of Iranian senior executives. The method of the current study was qualitative. In qualitative studies, the data are typically narrative descriptions of perceptions generated through in-depth interviews. When the data are analyzed, themes emerge or broad categories representing the findings develop (Creswell, 2005). Researchers follow a process to identify themes (Neuman, 2003) and to develop a detailed understanding of a phenomenon. “Phenomenology is a philosophy and a research method that describes experiences as they are lived in phenomenological terms” (Simon, 2006, p. 48). The phenomenological design is a qualitative approach. A qualitative research study was the best approach for the current research because the method allows a researcher to gain insight into a particular phenomenon. In qualitative research, researchers explore a central phenomenon and engage in an emerging process of research (Creswell, 2002). The investigator looks for information on a central phenomenon based on ideas shared by participants. “The freedom to use more

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personal, literal styles, [and] the participant’s own language and perspective” (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001, p. 102) is relevant and offers a solid ground to study a problem existing in the phenomena from primary sources. The quantitative approach was not applicable in the current study. Quantitative research is used to test hypotheses and establish relationships between measured variables (Creswell, 2005). According to Creswell, quantitative research is used to explain the participants’ reactions to a single variable, compare groups on a result, or describe the variables. Results in quantitative research usually present the outcome of multiple analyses of data (Cooper & Schindler, 2003). Case study is a type of qualitative design that concentrates on a single unit. “Such study is an in-depth exploration of a bounded system (e.g., an activity, event, process, or individuals) based on extensive data collection” (Creswell, 2005, p. 439). In a leadership case study, the research design could be used to study the leadership process or behavior as an element of success. Such studies illustrate a study of bounded systems (specific individuals) and an assessment of patterns of behavior for each individual (Creswell, 2005). In the current study, a case study design was applied because the research was focused on the subject of executive leadership in engineering firms. A case study approach was also appropriate because the research study used a gatekeeper, Hampa Engineering (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995, as cited in Creswell, 2005), to gain access to participating organizations and participants. The purpose of the current qualitative phenomenological case study was to explore the experiences of Iranian senior executives regarding the educational, professional, organizational, and sociological factors that are perceived to affect their

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practice of leadership. The study population consisted of a purposeful convenience sample of senior executives willing to participate in the research (Creswell, 2005). The study was conducted using audio taped, in-depth interviews with 11 selected executives: a pilot study participant and 10 participants from private, Iranian, engineering firms operating within the oil industry. Participants were asked to identify issues that led to common themes across the interviews. The instrument for the data collection in the current qualitative phenomenological study was open-ended question interviews. Interviews were conducted face-to-face and audio recorded for future analysis. The interviews followed a protocol (see Appendix D) to structure the meetings and conduct the interviews. As needed, field notes were taken during the interview (Creswell, 2005). The factors identified by the participants formed a group of leadership themes that were analyzed using NVivo8 software. The analysis consisted of finding the meaningful and useful information within a large amount of data. NVivo8 is designed to support a wide range of research methods including phenomenology analysis (QSR International, 2009). NVivo8 software helps to manage, shape, and make sense of unstructured information by importing, sorting, and analyzing audio, video, and word files. The software codes documents, queries data with a search engine, and graphically displays project information (QSR International, 2009). A pilot test was conducted to help evaluate the Interview Protocol (see Appendix D) and the interview questions (see Appendix E) to discover any disorder or confusion in the process. An exploratory investigation helps to test and evaluate the questions being considered for the interview (Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Triangulation is the method of

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confirming proof from various individuals and forms or methods of data collection in descriptions and themes (Creswell, 2005). Triangulation promotes validation of the data collection and analysis. Using multiple data sources for the qualitative case study, the data were triangulated to promote validity and reliability (Creswell, 2005; Leedy & Ormrod, 2001). Triangulation also included any data acquired through the pilot test and member checking (Creswell, 2005). Research Questions Effective leadership is one of the most important aspects of successful organizational development. Grojean, Resick, Dickson, and Smith (2004) stated that “leaders not only directly influence the behavior of members, but their actions also influence the perceptions of members which lead to norms and expectations of appropriate conduct that become ingrained in the organization’s climate” (p. 224). Researchers in the field of leadership have presented a number of metrics for evaluating leadership performance. Blakler and Kennedy (2005) wrote extensively in the area of leadership traits. Kouzes and Posner (2007) identified leadership behaviors essential for success, and Popper (2004) evaluated the outcomes of followers. Leadership development has become an important part of today’s successful organizations and should become part of an organization's core structure (Foster, 2006). Through leadership development, potential leaders develop an understanding of leadership mechanisms and how they align with the organization’s strategic plan (Avolio & Bass, 2004; Tubbs & Schulz, 2006). Leadership models and theories provide guidelines for the development of leadership.

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Early leadership theories focused on the most notable characteristics among leaders and followers. Recent theories focus on other variables such as transformational behaviors (Avolio & Bass, 2002). According to Tubbs and Schulz (2006), “there is no more important task with regard to leadership development than identifying the competencies and meta-competencies that comprise leadership” (p. 29). The Iranian government has privatized a number of state-run enterprises to improve the country’s overall economic viability. Abbas and Amirshahriari (2002) reported Iranian management in public organizations: (a) is inefficient; (b) centralizes power and authority at the top; (c) lacks motivation; (d) lacks participation; and (e) centralizes management practices. The goals of the current study were to explore factors that contribute to successful and unsuccessful leadership practices and address the following research question: How are Iranian leaders developed, and what factors contribute to their successful leadership practices? Theoretical Framework An effective leadership model based on information gained from privatized, private, or state-run firms could be applied by financial and political leaders to benefit the organizations they serve (Medhin, 2007). Leadership has emerged as a management paradigm for enhancing organizational performance and profitability. To some extent, modern leadership has been regarded as a second industrial revolution (Ganji, 2008). Despite extensive research in leadership, little empirical research has been found on leadership in an international context, especially in the Middle East. The goal of the current research study was to explore leadership as practiced by senior executives within private engineering companies in Iran, centralized in the oil

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industry. The study was grounded on the area of leadership theories. Transformational leadership focuses on thinking creatively (Avolio & Bass, 2002; Kouzes, 2003; Stone, Russell, & Patterson, 2004). The transformational leader is creative when motivating team members to produce beyond their current capabilities (Avolio & Bass, 2002; Kouzes, 2003; Stone et al., 2004). The foundation of transformational leadership is motivating people to rise to their highest potential, which is central to the research question. Transformational leaders strive for unique approaches and creativity to motivate employees to produce above corporate expectations (Boerner, Eisenbeiss, & Griesser, 2007). Kouzes (2003) stated that a successful transformational leader should perform five key practices: “modeling the way, inspiring a shared vision, challenging the process, enabling others to act, and encouraging the heart” (p.73). The leader should consider these five practices when defining goals and expectations as well as when developing a plan of action for success (Avolio & Bass, 2002; Kouzes, 2003; Stone et al., 2004). In the current study, the researcher senior executives were interviewed to determine to what extent these practices were performed. The current research was also based on Greenleaf’s servant leadership theory (Boerner et al., 2007) and Hersey and Blanchard’s situational leadership theory (Oyinlade & Gellhaus, 2005). Servant leaders focus on meeting followers’ needs, developing employees to bring out their best, and coaching employees to excel in their performance (Kouzes, 2003). The servant leader is a listener who pays attention to the needs of the employees and develops strategies to meet those needs. “Situational leadership helps managers determine the various behaviors they can use to make effective changes in their

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environment” (Hersey & Blanchard, 1982, p. 51). Situational leadership involves assessing the organization’s existing structure and making adjustments to satisfy the needs of that structure (Oyinlade & Gellhaus, 2005). Transactional leadership approaches from a business standpoint were also explored for the study population. The transactional leader builds on the need to complete the task. “One important dimension of transactional leadership is the use of contingent rewards whereby leaders clarify expectations and provide resources and support in return for effort on the part of the follower” (Cray, Inglis, & Freeman, 2007, p. 6). Transactional leaders “approach their followers with an eye to trading one thing for another: jobs for votes, subsidies for campaign contributions” (Burns, as cited in Bolman & Deal, 2003, p. 361). An important advantage of the transactional style lies in the fact that such leaders are readily available, as they can often be found within the organization itself (Cray et al., 2007). Definition of Terms In the current study, some concepts require definition to provide context and boundaries of intent and purpose. 360 degree evaluation: A 360 degree evaluation is a performance appraisal in which, “managers, peers, or colleagues are asked to complete questionnaires on the employee being assessed” (Byars & Rue, 2004, p.253). This type of appraisal or structured developmental feedback is an assessment survey instrument that can be customized for any type of organization. A 360 degree evaluation process, might in a constructive manner, supplies leaders with accurate feedback regarding the assessment of leadership skills inside an association (Kouzes, 2003).The 360 degree evaluation in this

Full document contains 170 pages
Abstract: The current qualitative phenomenological case study was conducted to explore leadership practices of senior executives in private Iranian engineering firms within the oil industry. Eleven in-depth interviews were conducted to explore participant leadership experiences and to identify the educational, professional, organizational, and sociological factors that are perceived to affect the practice of leadership. The interview responses were coded and analyzed using NVivo8. Research findings identified five leadership development themes: (a) training (b) perception and knowledge, (c) responsibility and collaboration, (d) culture, and (e) empowerment. Five themes essential to successful leadership also emerged: (a) communication, (b) ethics, (c) creativity and critical thinking, (d) integrity and trust, and (e) vision and strategy. The study findings have potential implications for Iranian organizational leadership and leadership development. A model for organizational communication, that incorporates all of the leadership themes identified in the study, is advanced for possible adoption by leadership practitioners, or to be explored in future research studies.