Several studies show that there is a strong correlation between expertise or specialization and successful decision-making. The performance of a group on decision-making activities has been associated with the capacity to acknowledge expertise and the degree of expertise. Two theories of organizational behavior substantiate such value of expert leadership, namely, (1) expert power and (2) contingency theory. Expert power is a form of authority arising from knowledge, specific abilities, or expertise. Nowadays, due to radically developing technologies, specialization has become one of the strongest sources of power. The evolution toward a service-focused, knowledge-based society has elevated the value of expert power in different forms of organizations (Miner 2002, 342).
Expert leadership is quite successful especially if the subordinates recognize the leader’s expertise and are confident in their leader’s knowledge and skills. Expert leadership has the greatest potential when the members of the group are certain that they can attain their objectives by obeying or following the instructions and leadership of the expert, and when a situation emerges where in expert knowledge is needed for the successful performance or survival of the group.
Rather than learning to perform each task sufficiently, employees concentrate on doing a single task exceptionally (Miner 2002, 303). The outcome is a more productive, efficient process that generates more products/services of superior quality. Another theory that supports the importance of expertise in today’s economy is contingency theory. In this model, issues of specialization or focus on a particular task are accompanied by the relationship between the leader and subordinates. Contingency theory claims that expertise is crucial to tasks carried out under pressure or periods of tension because the demands of the situation are unknown until the urgent situation or crisis arises (Poole & Van de Ven 2004, 127).
The value of expert leadership in building a strong, competitive character is a means toward organizational strength and success. In the contingency approach, the expert leader is in charge of building the appropriate or correct situational setting where in individuals can gain fulfillment from their performance (Aldrich 2007, 19-20). This obliges the expert leader to determine and understand the needs of the job and to empower the individuals to work toward a shared objective.
One of the major global corporations that are currently moving toward expert leadership is General Electric (GE). According to the article of Kate Linebaugh (2012, para 3), instead of deliberately putting its leaders somewhere else on a regular basis to familiarize them further to the organization, GE is currently allowing its leaders to remain in their departments longer than before, expecting that their greater knowledge of or expertise in customers and products will generate bigger profit and build the motivation of its people.
On the other hand, the premise of contingency theory as regards to expertise is reflected in the statement of Anders Wold of GE: “Customers won’t tell us exactly what they want. If you are very generic, if you don’t have that domain understanding, you will develop products that will be average and not very successful” (Linebaugh 2012, para 18). The complexity and uncertainty of the business world requires a deeper, not a wider, understanding of tasks at hand. Works Cited Aldrich, Howard. Organizations and Environments. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press, 2007.
Print. Linebaugh, Kate. “The New GE Way: Go Deep, Not Wide. ” Wall Street Journal. 7 March 2012. Accessed on 30 July 2012. < http: //online. wsj. com/article/SB10001424052970204571404577257533620536076.html> Miner, John. Organizational Behavior: Foundations, Theories, and Analyses. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print. Poole, Marshall Scott & Andrew Van de Ven. Handbook of Organizational Change and Innovation. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. Print.