Leaders, Managers, Entrepreneurs on and Off the Organizational Stage*

Leaders, Managers, Entrepreneurs On and Off the Organizational Stage* Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff My purpose is to tell of bodies which have been transformed into shapes of different kinds. You heavenly powers, sinee you were responsible for those changes, as for all else, look favourably on my attempts, and spin an unbroken thread of verse, from the earliest beginnings of the world, down to my own times.
Ovid: Metamorphoses Abstract Barbara CzarniawsicaJoerges Department of Business Administration, Lund University, Lund, Sweden Roif Woiff Gothenburg Research Institute at the School of Economics and Legal Science, Gothenburg, Sweden This paper explores three crucial roles of the organizational theatre: managers, leaders and entrepreneurs. Changing fashion in the organizational theory debate as well as in organizational practice puts different roles in focus at different times.
Organization theory should, accordingly, shift its attention toward studying the contexts in which a given role acquires dominance, in place of an unreflective discussion of the relative functional advantages of each of them. This paper argues that none of the three will ever go out of fashion, as they can be seen as enactments of archetypes, embodying the different fears and hopes of those who create organizations by their daily performance.

Leadership is seen as symbolic performance, expressing the hope of control over destiny; management as the activity of introducing order by coordinating flows of things and people towards collective action, and entrepreneurship as the making of entire new worlds. The sociohistorical context needs to be considered as the stage-set wherein these roles gain prominence. Introduction Organization Studies 1991, 12/4: 529-546 © 1991 EGOS 0170-8406/91 0012-0022 $2. 00 Leaders are in, managers are out, entrepreneurs are waiting in the corridor.
What orders their appearances and disappearances? In an attempt to answer this question, we propose to analyze all three roles, not in terms of organizational effectiveness, but as symbolic expressions of collective hopes and fears, played out (‘performed’) on the organizational stage. Leaders, managers and entrepreneurs are supposed to serve certain functions in organizations — functions which are ascribed to so-called executive positions. The term ‘executive’ comes from the times when managers were supposed to execute the owners’ will.
The separation of ownership and control (Chandler 1977) complicated this simple relationship, opening the way for discussions on the desired form of the executive role. This debate does not take place in a vacuum; it accompanies, reflects and influences changes in organizational practices and theories. Just which functions and in what configuration changes, both with theories and with time, because the definition of what executive functions should entail changes in line with master-ideas, whose time comes and goes (Czarniawska-Joerges and Joerges 1990).
These, in turn, are related to 530 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff broader changes in the cultural context of organizing (Czarniawska 1986). An ambition to tackle the issues of context leads researchers to obviously relevant aspects such as changes in business cycles or changes in political climate. A study of these can of course, if treated with devotion, completely fill more than one research career, and yet there always remains something unanswered, a phenomenon unexplained, of a kind that conventional organization studies are poorly equipped to grasp.
Perhaps the theatre metaphor (Mangham and Overington 1986; Czarniawska-Joerges 1992) would help in describing those ephemeral phenomena. What leads to a change in repertoire of a theatre, a replacement of comedy by tragedy, Shakespeare by Pinter? It is the decision of the management, the wishes of the primadonnas, the current cultural fashion, the economic exigencies — and much more. In the organizational theatre, the plays performed vary from one season to another, from one director to another, but the general repertoire seems to be quite traditional, even if it contains both tragedy, comedy and drama.
It might be that the actual playwright is our ‘collective unconscious’, to use Jung’s term (1934); that in our attitudes toward the central organizational roles, i. e. leaders, managers and entrepreneurs we act out archetypes. This phenomenon escapes the analysts’ attention because we are used to looking for articulation of archetypes in different spheres — in myths and legends (Hogenson 1987). In this discussion, we are dealing with ‘archetypes of personalities’ rather than ‘archetypes of transformation’ (Jung 1934/1959: 322).
The latter are ‘typical situations, places, ways and means’ according to Jung (p. 322), or what some would call ‘scripts’ (Mandler 1984). The archetypes of personalities are ‘universal, idealized, larger-than-life symbols that contain the essence of human experience and that help individuals develop an emotionally satisfying picture of the world’ (Krefting and Frost 1986: 164). In other words, we argue that the central organizational roles represent wishes and fears shared by organizational collectives; they are symbols which help to ascribe meaning to organizational events. It always seems to us as if meaning — compared with life — were the younger event, because we assume, with some justification, that we assign it of ourselves, and because we believe, equally rightly no doubt, that the great world can get along without being interpreted. But how do we assign meaning? From what source, in the last analysis, do we derive meaning? The forms we use for assigning meaning are historical categories that reach back into the mist of time — a fact we do not take sufficiently into account. (Jung 1934/1959: 317) In what follows we shall try to show that the continuing debate on those roles reaches indeed ‘back into the mists of time’, and although we limit ourselves to a relatively short p of time there are plenty of traces pointing further back. Next, we shall attempt to demonstrate that the three roles are complementary in the sense that they answer different needs or fears of the collective unconscious. In this sense, no role is ever Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 53I out’; they all have their place in our collective consciousness, even if we at times tire of one and become fascinated with another. To bring out the core of these archetypes we shall look for their equivalents in literature and theatre, the traditional fields of symbolic expression. In doing so, we continue and extend the tradition of symbolic interpretation of executive roles (see e. g. Frost and Egri, forthcoming; Gustafsson 1984, 1985; Kets de Vries 1989, 1990a, 1990b; Westley and Mintzberg 1989). Leaders
In 1948, Robert Stodgill attempted to make a list of traits responsible for leaders’ success, starting with a review by Charles Bird from 1940, which listed 79 traits important for successful leadership, as mentioned in 20 works reviewed. Stodgill updated the list to about 100 traits while observing that different authors did not agree on their importance. When he returned to the topic 26 years later in his book Handbook of Leadership, the number of leadership studies reviewed exceeded 3000 (Stogdill 1974).
During the 1960s, the concept of organizational leadership began to shift from persons to behavioural styles and then toward the situational factors. Ghiseili (1963), Fiedler (1964), Bass (1960), and Umanski (1967) were among the best known authors who studied leadership and recommended that the leaders should begin by diagnosing the context of their action and should then act accordingly. By the 1970s, the interest in leaders diminished. There were at least two reasons.
One was that, after three decades, researchersfinallyarrived at a contingency theory which proclaimed that leaders’ success depends on the fit between their personalities (thus incorporating the trait theory), the type of action they choose (the style theory, with its origins in the seminal study by Lewin et al. 1939), and the situation (e. g. Fiedler 1964). This achievement, impressive at the time, was met with some derision twenty years later, when the waves of fashion came and went several times.
Wildavsky’s comments summarize it very well: ‘Unfortunately, multiplying traits of leaders, times types of followers, times samples of situations, times group interactions has led to more variety than anyone can manage. ‘ (Wildavsky 1984: 18) Another, and probably more important reason for abandoning the role of leadership was political frustration at the end of the 1960s. The young Americans saw their favourite leaders killed; the young French decided to remove their old, unpopular leaders themselves. McClelland’s article on ‘Two faces of power’ (1970) is a vivid example of anxieties suffered by the older generation in the U.
S. when the youth rejected the traditional authority and the conventional career paths. According to this study, the graduates of Harvard and other schools did not want to be leaders anymore, seeing a dark face of power even behind the innocent organizational titles. 532 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff Managers Thus in the 1970s, charismatic leaders were distinctly out of fashion, and yet there was still a need for some sort of authority expression in organizations. The unpretentious ‘managers’ took the place of leaders.
However, ‘Fayol’s fifty year old description of managerial work was no longer of use’, observed Mintzberg (1971) in an early report from his famous study of the tasks of managers. A new approach was needed and the most typical model for a manager of the 1970s was perhaps Drucker’s (1970) ‘effective executive’. The effective executives had no charisma whatsoever. The organizational reality pushed them towards ineffectiveness. Their time belonged to everybody else. They were forced to focus on operational exigencies to the detriment of reflection and strategic thinking.
They were blinded by the walls of organizations, cutting off the worid outside. They were dependent on what other people did or did not do. To all these harassed people, Drucker formulated a message — a list of practices allowing for an increase in effectiveness, a set of pragmatic prescriptions on how to manage one’s time, how to use accessible resources and how to make decisions (Drucker 1970). Problem-solving capacities were more important than social skills and decision-making ability conquered charisma, at least for a while.
But power was again noticed, lurking behind this depersonalized, institutional facade. It has been said that the management-oriented researchers, like the early rationalist organization theorists, ‘. . . believed mankind had to shift from the government of men to the administration of things, as their precursor Saint-Simon had claimed; and they felt they were achieving their aims by emphasizing financial stimuli and technical controls instead of human leadership. The delusion that they had suppressed power relationships prevented them from understanding the true nature of their own actions. ‘ (Crozier 1964: 146)
In a sense, this is the same accusation as the one formulated eariier against the leaders, but with a different rationale behind it. While leaders did not understand the true nature of their actions, blinded by power, the managers were blinded by an illusion that they were free from power. This issue appears in the debate on both sides, pro-leaders and promanagers. The advocates of leadership say that there is so much power in organizations that it must be officially recognized, whereas the defenders of management tend to say that there are enough power games in organizations without giving them an official status.
To leave this circle, let us introduce a third voice. Entrepreneurs The story goes that long before there were any leaders or managers in the companies, there were entrepreneurs. These entrepreneurs created, in fact, the world of business organizations as we know them today, employ- Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 533 ing not so much charisma or intellectual capacities as something else: willpower. Let us thus make an excursion ‘into the mists of time’. In 1921, Josef Schumpeter published an article on the Unternehmer — the entrepreneur.
In this not very well known article, he explored the character of the business company from a historical point of view, the function of the entrepreneur and finally the ‘modern’ entrepreneur. Schumpeter saw the origins and functioning of companies as being based on two correlated facts: on the one hand, the property rights over the means and results of production; and, on the other, what he called a ‘business mentality’. The latter led to the development of production techniques, a capitalist economic calculation and market communication structures.
The combination of this capitalist mentality and capitalist property rights produced business companies, which became crucial elements of the contemporary cultures, but even more — they were, without doubt, ‘the basis for and the condition of such cultures’ (Schumpeter 1921: 47). Thus, a given type of motivational force creates a given type of organization, which results in a given type of culture that, in turn, encourages such motivational forces and permits such organizations. When analyzing the 18th century, one can see entrepreneurs functioning both as employers and owners of capital.
Schumpeter, however, had already noticed that these functions can be and are different, and that in modern companies one encounters two different types of people: managers and entrepreneurs. Management, according to Schumpeter, is a function consisting of control, of guaranteeing discipline and introducing order; a function requiring considerable daily, bureaucratic work. This function, necessary as it is, does not embody what is really characteristic of the capitalist economy. The importance of the entrepreneur is not the management of an existing company but the creation of such a company.
Schumpeter perceived entrepreneurship as a specific case of social leadership. Such ‘social leaders’ are not outstanding in their task abilities, but in their willpower. This willpower can be translated into contemporary language as ‘initiative’, but, in this case, not an initiative of thought (for example, conception of new ideas), but an initiative of action. The core of entrepreneurial motivation is similar to that of leaders, but entrepreneurship mainly fits contexts which are new and cannot be dealt with by means of experience or routine.
Entrepreneurship is leadership in exceptional situations and, we might add, is most likely to entail the creation of such situations. Schumpeter stressed repeatedly that entrepreneurship is never a matter of individuals only. It is a phenomenon which has to be analyzed and identified within a complex conglomerate of factors. In saying this, interestingly enough, Schumpeter seemed to anticipate the growing interest in what Mintzberg (1983) calls ‘configurations’: complex, dynamic contexts where simple contingencies are not of much use. 34 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff This does not mean that one should neglect other functions. Any economy, at any time, is performing on the basis of existing experiences and routines. Therefore, there will always be a function which has to do with the supervision of these processes (and which we call ‘management’). Management, or the routine behaviour in production and business, enables economies to deliver promptly and act in accordance with the requirements of systems which are highly rational and therefore predictable.
On the macro-level, though, many processes constantly change their situational equilibrium. There is a continuous growth of population and the means of production. There are also non-economic developments which are changing the economy: social developments, political influences, and so on. On the micro-level, the equilibrium ceases to exist when individuals see new possibilities, and strive to implement the innovations they have in mind. The concurrence of macro- and microchanges creates room for entrepreneurs.
Paraphrasing Schumpeter’s ideas in social constructionist terms, one can say that entrepreneurs are people who are the first to see a crack or aflawin a social construction of economic reality, and to interpret it as an opportunity to actualize their ideas of what the world should look like. As long as this vision is not shared by others, they have to live with an individually constructed reality, which is a heavy burden to bear. What seem to be anecdotal stories of mad inventors and innovators might be actually quite true, in the sense that the unsuccessful inventors are people whose reality did not become socially confirmed.
Those who succeeded, though, are the makers of our worlds. Leadership Revisited The neo-conservatism of the 1980s brought to Europe, from beyond the ocean, various nostalgic notions such as ‘free market’ and ‘leadership’ (as opposed to ‘negotiated economies’ and ‘codetermination’, the keywords of the 1970s). As far as leadership was concerned, organization theory did not go far beyond Stogdill: offering many definitions, many brands of leadership and varying recipes for success (see e. g. Maccoby 1981; Bass 1985; Bennis and Nanus 1985).
But it is ‘charisma’ and ‘visions’ that count most. Bernard Bass asks dramatically: ‘What does Lee Iacocca have that many other executives lack? Charisma. What would have happened to Chrysler without him? It probably would have gone bankrupt. ‘ (Bass 1984: 26) To which Robert B. Reich answers: ‘Many Americans would prefer to think that Lee Iacocca single-handedly saved Chrysler from bankruptcy than to accept the real story: a large team of people with diverse backgrounds and interests joined together to rescue the ailing company. ‘ (Reich 1987: 82)
Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 535 Reich points out that public opinion would like to see lacocca as an entrepreneur, a solitary world-maker, rather than a leader who represents a team of people joined in a common effort. His critique aims at the public veneration of world-makers, based on nothing more than their own claim to fame. What is interesting to us, however, is the fact that Reich stresses the difference between the entrepreneurs as solitary worldmakers and leaders who actually lead other people toward a common vision.
It has been repeatedly stressed, especially in analyses of political leadership, that leaders express and embody the wishes of their followers rather than impose those of their own. The romanticizing tradition, which Reich criticizes, tends to equip the heroes of the day with the capacities of leaders, entrepreneurs and managers all rolled into one, where they lead the masses to worlds of their own making, waiting for nature to cooperate. In practice, however, not only should the three roles be divided among different people, but even their performance should be brought much closer to reality.
If one talks to people employed by organizations led by charismatic leaders, one discovers that they learn about their leaders’ visions from the mass media (sometimes from internal videotapes) and that leaders themselves, busy in the TV studio, only have a vague idea of what is happening in their organizations (Schwartz 1989). Organizations are run with the help of Standard Operating Procedures — of which culture is perhaps the most powerful — and impersonal control processes, the latter initiated and fed by many different actors, none of whom accepts responsibility for the actual course of events.
The remaining pockets of autonomy are filled with individual creativity and self-control which rarely comes from the leaders (on leaders’ necessary distance from organizational action, see Brunsson 1989). So, what is leadership all about? In 1978, at the dawn of the new leadership era, a curious book was published, entitled Leadership: Where else can we go? (edited by McCall and Lombardo), which included contributions from the greatest authorities in the field (Jeffrey Pfeffer, Karl Weick, Louis Pondy). The articles challenged all the conventional visions of leadership and came up with new images.
The most famous of these was perhaps Pfeffer’s article ‘The ambiguity of leadership’. Pfeffer stated that there was not enough evidence to indicate ‘either the effect of leadership or, more significantly, the conditions under which leadership might be expected to have more or less impact on organizational outcomes’ (Pfeffer 1977/1978: 23). Leaders serve as symbols representing the personal causation of social events. Such personal attribution of causality is a confirmation of the feasibility to control events, one of the most important stakes in human beings’ fight against destiny. Occupants of leadership positions come to assume symbolic value, and the attribution of causality to those positions serves to reinforce the organizational construction of meaning that provides the appearance of simplicity and controllability. ‘ (Pfeffer 1977/1978: 29) 536 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff Creating this ‘illusion of control’ over fate (Brunsson 1989; Czarniawska 1985) lies at the core of leaders’ symbolic performance. Leadership should be seen as a political, symbolic process and understood and evaluated in this perspective.
While accepting this postulate, we propose to extend the symbolic perspective to the two other roles: entrepreneurs and managers. Entrepreneurship Reconsidered The late 1980s saw a revival of a long forgotten role: that of the entrepreneur, which, for a while, seemed to be petrified in one epoch: that of early capitalism. The contemporary version of this role, embedded into monetary supply-side capitalism, is well described by Kaplan: ‘To get things done through individuals striking out on their own’ (1987: 86). The role is ven better understood when contrasted with that of ‘drones’ (Reich 1987), that is, those who keep the empires and the big conglomerates going. Entrepreneurs, in the 1990s as in the 1880s, create new social and organizational realities. They work against the existing social structure, not by opposing it by e. g. political means, but by behaving as if the existing structure did not exist. By ignoring the established ways of thinking and action, they make dreams come true. Drones are then the carriers of entrepreneurial ideas. ‘Entrepreneurs’ and ‘drones’ alike represent two extreme personalities, born by two extreme social realities.
Today’s societal and economic structures tend to moderate both. On the one hand, revolutionary innovation became complex and inordinately costly; on the other, the everyday running of empires requires innovation and social change. Also, the individualism of entrepreneurship contrasts with the realities of everyday life and family structures, at least in the western industrialized part of the globe where we live and work. The freedom for acting out male dreams is curbed by women’s emancipation, followed by changing division of work at home, and women’s attempts to acquire managerial positions.
The dual career problems and ‘glass ceilings’ discovered by women in the corporate context leads to more and more women opening small companies of their own. A growing proportion of entrepreneurial businesses in Europe and Africa have been established by women. History will show whether these new entrepreneurs will also fall into the luring trap of empire building supported by traditional economic success criteria, or whether they will redefine entrepreneurship by tying it to different archetypes. IVIanagement Defended ‘. . . he executive leader is not a leader of men only but of something we are learning to call the total situation. This includes facts, present and potential aims Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 537 and purposes of men. Out of a welter of fact, experience, desires, aims, the leader must find the unifying thread. He must see a whole, not a mere kaleidoscope of pieces. He must sec the relation between all the different factors in a situation. ‘ (Follet 1949: 51) It was with these words that, as early as the 1940s, Mary Parker Follet tried to defend the need for management — rather than just for leadership.
In the 1970s, Zaleznik launched the insightful thesis that while leaders are needed in times of crisis and change, managers represent the everyday rationality of welfare and affluence (Zaleznik 1977; see also Czarniawska-Joerges 1989). Machiavelli, it seems, wrote for managers and not for leaders. Leaders ‘sometimes react to mundane work as to an affliction’ (Zaleznik 1977: 201). ‘They may work in organizations, but they never belong to them’ (1977: 205). The 1980s brought in a heavier assault: managers lacked not only leadership but entrepreneurship as well.
Always a gallant knight of management, Peter Drucker asserts that they are all the same: ‘Management is the new technology (rather than any specific new science or invention) that is making the American economy into an entrepreneurial economy (. . . ) Entrepreneurship requires above all application of the basic concepts, the basic techne, of management to new problems and new opportunities. ‘ (Drucker 1985: 17) The concept of ‘intrapreneurship’ (Pinchot 1985) is, in fact, the most extreme attempt to join management and entrepreneurship in the service of large organizations.
Roger Kaplan comments drily: ‘For society to work, you need more than robust little capitalists’ (Kaplan 1987: 89). Managers stand for rationality, as Zaleznik rightly pointed out, and they have not disappeared. As late as 1986, Hales asked again ‘what do they do? ‘ on his way to ‘clarification and synthesis between managers’ behaviour and the management function’ (Hales 1986: 112). We shall now look at all three from a symbolic perspective only. In this endeavour, we shall look for help in archetypical personages known from belles lettres. This is, however, an illustratory device, and is arbitrary in character.
The readers are encouraged to look for other images or metaphors which render explicit that which the archetypes project into perceptions of executive roles as designed by both the actors and their audience. Why Are Leaders So Attractive? As we see it, the most appropriate figure representing the leader’s role is that of Moses. It embraces, for example, the three leadership archetypes distinguished by Frost and Egri (forthcoming): The Warrior, the Healer and the Magician. A perceptive analysis of Moses’ political leadership, rendered by Wildavsky (1984), provides a good example of what is expected of a leader.
It took Moses 40 years to take the Jews to their land, although 40 days would have been enough, but he had everything 538 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff that a leader should have: a visioti, a will to lead, atid a cotitact with God. We do not intend to follow Wildavsky’s intricate reasoning. For present purposes, it suffices to notice that Moses represents the epitome of male and paternalistic leadership (a nursing father, Wildavsky calls him, although his nursing methods were rather cruel). His fate also indicates the primarily symbolic role of the leader: he never reached the Promised Land, he was not needed there.
The problem with Moseses is, that they have a tendency to sacrifice people in the name of obscure external sources of legitimacy. Additionally, common sense and good organization is not their speciality. Moseses are good in crises, but otherwise they are not the most efficient. In everyday life one contacts a manager of a travel agency to go to Israel. Does it mean that leaders are not responsible for what happens, because they do not actually cause it? Edelman answers this question in the following way: ‘They do identify themselves with particular courses of action and inaction and so deserve responsibility for them.
But the assumption that leaders have caused the events for which they take responsibility is reductionist because it ignores the consequences of historical developments, material conditions, and interpretations of those conditions. Except as minor elements of a complex transaction, leaders cannot provide security or bring about change. ‘ (1988: 65) An opposite type of leadership failure is the refusal to perform according to a script expected in given conditions. Maybe it is actually the other side of the same coin, that is, an erroneous belief on the part of the leader that he or she is truly a causative factor.
What is then perceived as successful leadership, if it is not the act of bringing about a change? It is a dramatic performance which fulfils the expectations of both audience and co-actors, while retaining contradictions in the service of dramatic effect, but limiting negative and threatening aspects to a necessary minimum; and, above all, a skilful use of stage set and a talented improvization, tuned to prevailing moods (see also Westley and Mintzberg 1989). These are very demanding skills; additionally, high visibility and high costs connected to failure contribute to the market value of this role.
Last but not least, high salary and high perks prove, in themselves, that the leader is who he is supposed to be: the person who controls fate. The successful performance confirms the accuracy of the attribution. Why Are Managers Least Liked? Like the leader, the manager has also a symbolic function to fulfil: that of introducing and keeping order, opposing entropy. But unlike the leader, he is not given the splendour of a Moses-like performance. He is a Miser, or worse still, a Scrooge, without imagination, with his ridiculous common sense and care for money and things.
Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 539 There are probably many mythical biographies representing the archetype of a manager. We took the Miser for his obvious similarity to an accountant. Misers are clearly comic characters, and we gladly laugh at them, as much as we need them. In the course of organizational life, however, this laughter becomes often bitter. Misers have a strong tendency to treat people as things. ‘Could anything be more cruel than this rigorous economy he inflicts on us, this unnatural parsimony under which we perforce languish? {The Miser, Act One) This is Cleante speaking to Elise, but wouldn’t we like to join him and La Fleche (‘A plague on all misers and their miserly ways! ‘) whenever we have spoken to our money-controllers? If the great leaders sometimes do a great deal of good by being othewise occupied (speaking to some god or other on some faraway mountain), managers sit at home, and manage: ‘Let us have you all in here. I want to give you instructions for this evening see that everybody has his job. Come here. Dame Claude, we’ll start with you (. . . ) Your job is to clean up all round, and do be careful not to rub furniture too hard.
I’m afraid of your wearing it out. Then, I’m putting you in charge of the bottles during the supper. If there’s a single one missing or if anything is broken I shall hold you responsible and take it out of your wages. ‘ (Harpagon, The Miser, Act Three) A manager would, of course, find out the shortest way between Egypt and Israel and the cheapest means of transportation, and where would we be with our legend? Boland and O’Leary’s (1988) amusing and insightful analysis of images of accounting in advertising illustrates this point very well.
The advertisement artists attempted to project an image of a creative controller supported by clever machines but the laughable picture of a man with sleevelets and glasses always crept in. The enemy of creativity and change, the Miser nevertheless symbolizes order, the value which is just as indispensable to organization as control over the fate which Moses promised to his people. At any rate, manager is the one with the truly economic mind, ridiculous as it might seem to all who care about higher things. Why Are Entrepreneurs Admired and Feared? Who are entrepreneurs in terms of their dramatic performance?
It is difficult to say as, unlike leaders and managers, who are limited to the political and/or organizational stage, entrepreneurs represent an everyman’s dream of the successful life. They are Columbuses, treasure-hunters and Horatio Alger’s heroes all in one. Their task is to create new worlds, often with a mainly pecuniary interest in the background. In a sense, their play is most often a tragedy, while leaders come from a drama and managers from a comedy. They might become Macbeths if things go wrong, but also inventors like Faust, who wanted to be immortal and succeeded — indeed, it depends on very individual moral judgement as to 40 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Wolff whether we see Faust as a failure or as a total success. When successful, entrepreneurs acquire God-like (or Satan-like) properties in eyes of the rest of the people: those who can create worlds are to be both worshipped and feared. In the beginning was meaning — In the beginning was power — In the beginning was action — (Faust) How can one translate Faust’s dreams into modern economic terms? One possibility is some version of the American Dream, joining the archetype of the adventurer and the entrepreneur. Take, for example, the story of Uncle Jake.
In 1929, Uncle Jake left his family home and the horse-breeding farm inherited from his father in Connecticut for Alaska. His mother and friends stayed behind — that is, those friends who did not commit suicide after the Great Depression. The crash did not, however, influence Uncle Jake, neither economically nor psychologically: his optimism seemed enhanced by the dramas around him. This is how John Hawkes’ epos Adventures in the Alaskan Skin Trade (1942) starts. It builds up a character similar to Ragged Dick and other Horatio Alger stories, but makes it clear that the economic success is only a means and not the end in itself, as in Faust.
Ragged Dick, for example, was a self-made man, the intrepid capitalist, a person who became rich and made others happier by gambling on a new product or innovation. But Uncle Jake never got really rich. He stands for freedom, creativity and dream-building. The materialistic character of the dream has to do with another aspect of the American Dream — success as measured by money (which in old Europe was usually measured by pohtical influence). The social costs Jake created by going to Alaska were enormous.
He barely noticed his wife’s death; his daughter became a prostitute (there were not many ways for symbolizing women’s failure in life in those days) until the day when she managed to free herself from his influence and could reflect on her father: ‘He was an artist of adventurous life. The exclusivity of the adventure was more important to him than the treasures he constantly promised to me and my mother’. In the eyes of the daughter Jake was not an entrepreneur at all. He was only speaking as such. We are reminded of Iacocca again: has he created a world or did he only speak as if?
In a radical thought of Goodman (1978), this difference is immaterial. Until somebody comes with a better story, Iacocca will remain the author of Chrysler’s success in the eyes of the public. In his incisive analysis of the case of El-Sayed (the former chairman of a Swedish company who, after a dazzling success, ended up in prison), Kets de Vries observes: ‘All entrepreneurs need dreams, but in dreaming they are not always effective in distinguishing fact from fancy’ (1990a: 683). When they succeed, this very trait is seen as a source of their success. Leaders On and Off the Organizationai Stage 541
When they fail, they fail for the same reason. The line between a ‘dream’ and a ‘distortion of reality’ is a tentative one. But all of them, Fausts and Jakes and Dicks, have one thing in common; they leave behind a trail of broken hearts, crushed realities and, in general, extremely heavy costs (they are no Misers! ) In order to better contrast entrepreneurs with managers we can take another real-life but mythologized example, that of Columbus. As 1992 comes close and both Seville and Genoa are preparing for great celebrations, it becomes clear that Columbus ‘discovered’ America due to his ignorance and mythomaniac tendencies.
An Italian physician with a passion for geography told him, on the basis of several wrong estimations, that it is feasible to reach India by going there on an Eastern route. It has been said, by Columbus apologets, that he discovered America whereas other, better educated entrepreneurs did not. Actually, they did not because they were managers — in the positive sense of the word. Apparently, the Portuguese navigators knew very well that such a continent existed, had all the estimations correct, and planned the discovery of America as a next project after having reached India via the Western route.
Whereas most of the Columbus biographers ridicule mental rigidity and lack of intuition on the part of the ‘managers’ from the Portuguese School of Navigation, the more mundane interpretation would have it that they did not go to India via America because they knew it was impossible. As an administrator of the new land, Columbus and his two brothers gave an incredible show of incompetence and cruelty, to the extent that Ferdinand and Isabella were forced to call them back and appoint a new administrator.
Such is then the story of Columbus — a real entrepreneur, as opposed to Columbus as a mythical personage (Mendelssohn 1976), but in both versions one thing is clear: entrepreneurs tend to trample over old worlds in their attempts to create new. Why should they be so hailed and respected, then? Because they also bring change, building new realities on the ruins of the old. Personages and Processes As we have attempted to show, it is an illusion that one role ‘conquers’ the remaining two.
We could go further and further back and, most likely, find the same (as Crozier’s example of Saint-Simon already indicates): theoreticians quarrelling about which role is the best, and practitioners playing all three. The fashion of the day elevates one role above the other and then abandons it again. Now we need order, next we need change, and then we need to control our fate. What shapes the fashion, then? Reading the organization theory debate as it has evolved over the last 70 years, one acquires an impression that a demand for leaders, managers or 542 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Rolf Woiff ntrepreneurs is dictated by organizations themselves — straight to the researchers’ ears. Then, in an intellectual discourse about the functioning of organizations, the researchers establish which properties the executives should have. They inform the practitioners about what is desired and the practitioners try to follow norms as well as they can. The next wave of research results and theories brings new developments to light, the theory is perfected and the practice follows suit. Such an egocentric representation can be sustained only as a result of firm isolation from the political, social and economic context of organizing.
Indeed, with few and unsystematic exceptions, organizational literature neglects what is happening in the world around organizations. Sometimes a simple agent called ‘market’ comes into the picture, but even then just as a part of ‘environment’ which is, indeed, more and more what organizations managed to enact around themselves. Organizations, the open systems, are for ever immortalized in a closed system of an artificially created frame of reference. We would like to point out that organizations act in historically shaped economic and political circumstances.
If we bring these into the picture, the leadership debate can be portrayed, for example, as follows: Figure 1 1920s 1929 1930s 1939-1945 1940s 1950s An Historical Speculation Entrepreneurs Depression (economic crisis) Leaders WAR (poiiticai crisis) Managers Entrepreneurs (economic hope) 1960s 1968 1970s 1973-1975 1980s 1990s Leaders (poiiticai crisis) Managers (economic crisis? ) Leaders Entrepreneurs? The 1920s seemed to herald a recovery from the economic disaster of the 1st World War and the entrepreneurs were called for to create prosperity with their innovative thinking. The Great Depression brought an abrupt end to this dream.
Frightened and in despair, people called for leaders. And leaders they got: Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Churchill, Roosevelt. We shall not plunge into what many historians, on many occasions, have analyzed with delight; was it chance, a historically determined development, or all of those. We assume that people try to attribute meaning both to random events and to planned action. It is this factor that stands for the continuity in the process, and not mechanically connected chains of causes and effects. The war made people wary of leaders and gave rise to operational research in the U. S. A.
Managers were also welcome in Europe where a big job of restructuring the post-war economies was started. It became possible to think in terms of economic challenge, not only in terms of economic necessity. Entrepreneurs acquired room to play. Slowly, the Leaders On and Off the Organizational Stage 543 prosperity became feasible and leaders were needed again, to push forward and expand their successes. The imperialist ambitions and the failure of new, democratic leaders brought the political unrest of the Sixties. Throughout the rational 1970s, managers were in vogue, to introduce some order and rationality into the world.
The oil crisis, however, left in its wake the realization of a possible world-wide economic crisis. People turned to leaders again. As the crisisfeeling dissolved, however, the leaders were somewhat diminished in importance. It was Gorbachov, at least so long as he behaved as a political entrepreneur, who collected the popularity laurels. This is, of course, only one of several possible stories. We do not claim the monopoly on the one and only true story — rather, we would like to see more historical organizational research that traces down social, and not quasi-biological (as in population ecology) developments.
Additionally, such stories would have to pay increased attention to the rhetorics that are used in telling them (McCloskey 1986). In this paper, for example, we have used what is considered to be a chauvinist language: we have spoken of executives as if they were men. This was done on purpose: the dramatical metaphors gave us an additional insight into a matter that is becoming fashionable now, namely, why are there so few women leaders? Simply, the roles are not the female roles.
There are, of course, some convincing performances, especially by female Moseses, such as Ghandi or Thatcher, but nevertheless their performance is reminiscent of Shakespearean times when men performed all female roles: brilliant but artificial. Archetypical female roles are hard to fit into modern organizations: neither Dame aux Camellias nor Mother Svea have good chances, at least not in executive roles. In this respect, the organizational theatre has a very traditional repertoire. Researchers As Theatre Critics The question that concludes our paper and, hopefully, starts a discussion is: What should — or can — researchers do?
Shall we contribute to the debate as participants? Shall we attempt to unmask and deconstruct it? Shall we write new scripts or ironize the old ones? Holding to our theatre metaphor, we see our choice as analogous to that facing the theatre critics. We can opt for what we ourselves like best, or prompt the directors to keep the public content, or to keep the public on its toes. Over time, however, we should be able to arrive at a more systematic reflection on the organizational theatre. It would be illuminating to be able to follow the process of ppointing and dismantling the ‘favourites’ in the social consciousness; to see when and how people reach to the repertoire of archetypes to exchange the last one for another. This means following not only historical developments, but also the shaping of fashions, the development of organizational and occupational cultures, the ups and downs of professionalization, and other social pro- 544 Barbara Czarniawska-Joerges, Roif Wolff cesses of sense-making. The leadership debate can thus be seen as a transformation of symbols which both follows and announces other kinds of transformation.
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