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Cognitive processes in leadership in relationship to the effectiveness of construction project managers

W. Max Kirk, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Are leaders born or made? Some researchers in leadership and management have acknowledged that cognitive processes influence leadership and management behavior. However, little research literature exists pertaining to the neurological aspects of cognitive processes relating to leadership characteristics. Leadership theorists have yet to fully explore the connection of how the brain functions in relationship to behaviors of effective leaders. ^ Construction projects are kaleidoscopic in nature and administrating construction companies and their projects requires strong leadership and management skills. However, although the construction industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, there is virtually no research that specifically examines what constitutes effective leadership and management characteristics in construction project managers. ^ The purpose of this study was to discover perceived leadership characteristics of construction project managers and relate the findings to literature in a several areas including leadership, psychology, and cognition. Evidence from the literature suggests that there appears to be neurological and experiential bases for cognitive processes related to leadership characteristics in individuals. ^ Conducted as a qualitative design, data were initially collected through a random selection method of personal and telephone interviews with chief executives and project managers in construction firms throughout the United States. From these data, a description of effective construction project managers was formed and used to solicit names meeting the definition through letters sent to randomly selected construction firms nationwide. From these names, individuals were purposively selected to participate in brief telephone interviews. The responses were then used to verify the literature and the first set of interview responses. The findings indicated that neurological functions and early childhood experiences appear to influence leadership characteristics such that leaders are both born. and made. ^ The results of this study provide the groundwork for future research with significant implications for connecting disciplines in leadership, psychology, neurology and others. Additionally, the findings of this and future research could influence curriculum designs in construction management programs and related disciplines. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management|Engineering, General|Psychology, Cognitive

Recommended Citation

Kirk, W. Max, "Cognitive processes in leadership in relationship to the effectiveness of construction project managers" (2000). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI9967383.