An exploratory study on emergency leadership

Deon Vahid Canyon

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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Leadership in emergency management professions is fraught with threat, urgency and uncertainty. These call into question the validity of applying standard leadership theory to the special occupation of emergency management. This study investigates several attributes of leadership to test this contention. In doing so, it seeks to: determine whether there are characteristic leadership attributes that vary by country and occupation; whether the attributes are affected by gender, employment sector or size of organisation; whether the attributes in the emergency management profession differ from those in other professions; and whether the leadership attributes in the emergency management profession conform to an accepted leadership theory. The study survey was conducted in Australia, India and the Philippines. Survey participants rated 'best' and 'worst' leaders in business, health and emergency occupations by way of a 45-question survey. In total, 910 valid questionnaires were analysed using a blend of bivariate and multivariate methods. The survey sought information on important leadership attributes. These included the extent to which leaders focused on task or staff variables; the extent of their abilities in terms of performance, problem solving and information sharing; the extent of their effectiveness in terms of temporal perspective and principled behaviour; the extent of their capacity to discern what is important; and the extent of their ability to adapt and change. Overall, results indicate that emergency management leaders are less effective and display less ability than leaders in business. Leaders in health typically rate midway between business and emergency sectors. Most standard leadership theories are supported by this study which shows that best leaders require a high degree of all the attributes measured rather than a particular blend. The study suggests a large country effect with best leaders from India scoring significantly higher than
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2010


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