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2016/2017  KAN-CPOLV1021U  Leadership Power & Communication

English Title
Leadership Power & Communication

Course information

Language English
Course ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Quarter
Start time of the course First Quarter
Timetable Course schedule will be posted at calendar.cbs.dk
Study board
Study Board for BSc/MSc i International Business and Politics, MSc
Course coordinator
  • Øjvind Larsen - MPP

Professor Mitchell Dean CBS

Professor Ole Thyssen CBS

Associated Professor Øjvind Larsen CBS
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Political leadership and public management
  • Economics
Last updated on 22-02-2016
Learning objectives
To achieve the grade 12, students should meet the following learning objectives with no or only minor mistakes or errors: After having followed the course, the students are expected to be able to:
  • Explain the content of Weber’s, Foucault’s, Luhmann’s and Habermas’s theories about leadership, power and communication.
  • Analyze the main topics and concepts of the course, which are leadership, power, communication, politics, bureaucracy, risk management, self-government, systemic communication, normative communication, management communication.
  • Reach their own conclusions on the main topics and concepts of the course, which are leadership, power, communication, politics, bureaucracy, risk management, self-government, systemic communication, normative communication, management communication.
Leadership Power & Communication:
Exam ECTS 7,5
Examination form Written sit-in exam
Individual or group exam Individual exam
Assignment type Written assignment
Duration 4 hours
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) One internal examiner
Exam period Autumn
Aids allowed to bring to the exam Open book: all written and electronic aids, including internet access
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
If the number of registered candidates for the make-up examination/re-take examination warrants that it may most appropriately be held as an oral examination, the programme office will inform the students that the make-up examination/re-take examination will be held as an oral examination instead.
Course content and structure

The aim of this course is to introduce participants to theories of leadership in contemporary organizations by using the fundamental concepts and frameworks of four major thinkers, Max Weber, Michel Foucault, Niklas Luhmann and Jürgen Habermas. The course is primarily a theoretical course. The purpose of such an introduction is to facilitate participants’ theoretical understanding of how leadership operates in contemporary societies.

Topics of the course:
The course has the following 6 topics:
Topic 1: General introduction to leadership in the European tradition
Leadership has been discussed in European culture since ancient Greek democracy. Thus, the course begins with a short overview of different understandings of leadership in the European history of ideas. This will enable participants to situate the thought of Weber, Foucault, Luhmann and Habermas.
Topic 2: Weber’s theory of leadership and bureaucracy
Weber founded the basic theory of modern legal and rational bureaucracy, which remains the standard for all other theories of public administration. Participants will engage with Weber’s idea of different forms of leadership (Herrschaft) in traditional, charismatic and legal-rational forms of organization. The legal-rational model will be presented in detail. Key relevant themes include Weber’s concepts of leadership as vocation (Beruf), the ethos of office and ethic of responsibility, and the danger of blind obedience.

Topic 3: Foucault’s theory of governance, risk-management and self-government
Foucault is famous for his central concern with the way we conduct ourselves and others in relation to truth and knowledge.  To lead in his terms is to conduct others and oneself, or what he terms government.  Participants will become acquainted with his analytics of government, and its key terms such as political rationality, governmentality, technologies of the self and technologies of governing. They will examine his relationship to Weber’s account of rationalization and bureaucracy and how his approach can be used to study the ethos of office and professional transformation within contemporary management and audit and risk cultures, and the way contemporary organizational practices rely on forms of self-government.
Topic 4: Luhmann’s theory of leadership as decision making and risk management in contingent organizational communication
Luhmann has developed a radical theory of communication in which organizations are viewed as contingent autonomous self-reproductive or ‘autopoietic’ systems of communication. Such a communication is always threatened by the possibility of a total collapse. In this perspective, leadership becomes a form of risk management of communication. In principle, communication can only be momentary stabilized by decisions that again have to be stabilized by new confirmations. In Luhmann’s theory, the usual relation between agency and communication is turned around so that agency is totally subordinated to communication. Leadership has become a perpetual making of risky decisions, which only can be momentarily stabilized in the statement of something as simple as the purpose, direction and aim of the organization. In Luhmann’s perspective of leadership, there is no place for a normative evaluation of such a statement.
Topic 5: Habermas’s theory of leadership as a normative loaded communication versus systemic management communication in organizations
Habermas has developed a theory of communicative action in which communicative leadership has to be understood as a reflexive communication with all implicated parties. Habermas’s theory can be seen as a critique of Weber at the same time as it opens a utopian horizon for more democratic forms of administration. Habermas also includes Luhmann’s perspective in his theory of communicative leadership. For Habermas, social systems are acceptable as autopoietic communication as long as such systemic management communication does not substitute a normative communication, when it is needed. In this case, communication has to be a form of personal ethical reflection and normative communication. The leader has to be able to take a personal responsibility.

Topic 6: Leadership as a concluding combination of different organizational perspectives
The course will conclude with a discussion of the leadership theories of Weber, Foucault, Luhmann and Habermas in relation to each other. The aim of the course is to give the participants the ability to combine the four theories in different perspectives.

Teaching methods
Normal class teaching with lectures, presentations, questions and discussions.
Student workload
Preparation to the course, reading of the corriculum 136 hours
Participation on the Lessons 30 hours
Preparation for the exam 36 hours
Exam 4 hours
Expected literature

There will be a compendium with key English-language texts of Weber, Foucault, Luhmann and Habermas, and some commentaries and illustrative applications.

Last updated on 22-02-2016