Transformational leadership : inspiration or domination : a critical organisational theory perspective.
Within academic literature and contemporary organisations, it has become widely accepted that transformational leaders are required to harness the potential of their human resources in the direction of accomplishing organisational objectives and achieving organisational success. Transformational leaders are typically portrayed as charismatic, visionary individuals who are primarily concerned with the needs of their followers and who project a passionate and inspirational attitude within the organisational context. Little research however, has been directed toward a critical analysis of the power dynamics inherent in the leader-follower relationship and the discursive practices which influence and are influenced by this relationship. The current study sought to determine the extent to which a textual analysis of electronic journal articles pertaining to transformational leadership accurately reflected the presence of discursive effects. The findings revealed that both the knowledge products associated with transformational leadership as well as the practice of transformational leaders were informed by and embedded within a human resources management (HRM) discourse. As this discourse seeks to advance the interests of management and the organisation, transformational leadership functions as a mechanism through which the control and domination of workers is enacted within the workplace. Transformational leaders, through their alliance with a managerialist ideology, aspire to motivate employees to transcend their own self-interests and align their values with those of the organisation thereby engendering compliance, docility and self-domination. Discursive formations persuade employees to invest their subjectivities in the organisation, producing a hegemonic situation in which employees become instrumental in their own subordination.