Leadership and the Logic of Absurdity


Academy of Management Review

A paraître

Départements : Management et Ressources Humaines

Leaders are often thought to be instrumental to the performance of the organizations they lead. However, considerable research suggests that their influence over organizational performance might actually be minimal. These claims of leader irrelevance pose a puzzle: If leaders are relatively insignificant, why would someone commit to leading? Applying decision-making theory, this paper first considers justifying the decision to lead according to the Logics of Consequence and Appropriateness—the two principal decision-making logics underlying previous work on the motivation to lead. The paper then presents the Logic of Absurdity, a decision-making logic in which decision-makers knowingly choose to dedicate themselves to an irrational course of action. In terms of the decision to lead, a decision-maker employing the Logic of Absurdity acknowledges the likely futility of leading but decides to commit to leading, nonetheless. The paper concludes by considering when leaders are most likely to decide to lead according to the Logic of Absurdity and why doing so may result in leadership of exceptional originality, foolishness, intelligence, and madness