Leadership and management effectiveness: A multi-frame, multi-sector analysis


  • Lee G. Bolman,

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    • Lee G. Bolman is Lecturer on Education and Director of the National Center for Educational Leadership at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. A specialist in leadership and organizational behavior, his publications include Reframing organizations: Artistry, Choice and Leadership (written with Terrence E.Dea1). Bolman has been a consultant to corporations, public agencies, universities, and public schools in the United States, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. At Harvard he has also serued as educational chairperson of hoo executive development programs, the Institute for Educational Management and the Management Development Program. He has been director and board chair of the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society and a director of the National Training Laboratories Institute for Applied Behavioral Science. Bolman holds a B.A. in History and a Ph. D. in Organizational Behavior, both from Yale University.

  • Terrence E. Deal

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    • Terry Deal received his Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Sociology from Stanford University. As professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, Terry teaches courses in Organizational Theory and Behavior, Symbolism, and Leadership. He serves as Co-Director of The National Center for Educational Leadership (NCEL) and Senior Research Associate at the Center for the Advanced Study of Educational Leadership (CASEL). Terry previously taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Stanford School of Education.


Bolman and Deal (1984, 1991) have developed four perspectives, or frames, for understanding organizations and leadership: structural, human resource, political, and symbolic. This paper reports two studies that operationalize that model. The first study uses critical incidents written by managers to assess how many and which frames they use. Most incidents show the use of one or two frames; very few contain all four. In every population, the structural frame was used frequently while the symbolic frame was rarely evident. Across different populations, the use of the human resource and political frames varied substantially. The second study used survey instruments to assess managers' frame orientations. Regression analyses show that their orientations, as perceived by colleagues, are differentially related to perceived effectiveness as manager and leader. Managerial effectiveness is related to an emphasis on rationality and organizational structure. Leadership effectiveness is linked to symbols and culture. For men and women in comparable positions, gender is unrelated to leadership orientations or to their effectiveness as managers or leaders.