Transitions in Balanced Leadership in Projects: The Case of Horizontal Leaders
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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- Scientific articles 
Original versionIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management ( Early Access ) 2020 10.1109/TEM.2020.3041609
Balanced leadership theory conceptualizes that in projects leadership authority bounces back and forth between different roles in situational contingency, and is controlled by the project manager. One of these roles is the horizontal leader—a team member appointed by the project manager to lead the project through a particular issue or crisis. This article investigates the transition at the end of a horizontal leader's assignment and the morphostatic or morphogenetic consequences for future assignments, stemming from the “fit” between the horizontal leader's work with the expectations that led to his/her appointment. A realist social theory and transition theory perspective is taken with 30 interviews in eight case companies. A model for transition in balanced leadership is abductively developed. Variables identified are context, conditions, actors, mechanism, criteria, and outcomes. Results explain the nature and change of assignment conditions, as well as the (dis)continuation decisions on horizontal leader roles at the end of their assignment. A theory is developed that describes the transfer event, with its variables and their interaction. This provides for an extension of the theory of balanced leadership. Practitioners can apply the study's insights to steer the process of horizontal leader appointment and its (dis-)continuation to desired outcomes.