Project Management Institute

Leadership in temporary organizations

a review of leadership theories and a research agenda

Projects and other temporary forms of organizing are different from standard organizational processes. As most leadership theories are based on the assumption of stable organizational environments, the increase in temporary forms of organizing poses specific challenges to leadership theories. The authors evaluate existing leadership theories in terms of their applicability on temporary environments and identify theories, which are adaptable to temporary settings and therefore may be the basis for empirical investigations in this field. On this basis, the authors derive a research agenda by proposing individual leadership theories and combinations of different leadership approaches to be further assessed in research. The paper begins with a description of the challenges of leadership in temporary settings, being different from standard organizational processes in terms of tasks, an ex ante limited duration, and a short-term orientation.
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