Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
How do party leaders manage Congress? Congress (specifically, the U.S. Houseof Representatives) provides a limiting case of differing theories of public management,since Congress is populated by highly motivated members (employees) who do not needconstant urging from their party leaders (bosses) to meet the goals of the organization. As a result one would be likely to witness what organizational theorists call Theory Y behavior where leaders work to assure that their membership is able to achieve their personal goals. This leadership style has been discussed and employed over the last sixty years mainly in the private sector and in the bureaucracy. However, much of the congressional literature argues in contrast to theorganizational theorists. Instead it posits that party leaders have to pressure their rank-in file to take actions that are against their personal interests in order to assist the party and the leader without worrying about what the individual member wants or desires in a type of leadership style similar to what is known as Theory X by organizational theorists. This perspective is especially true in the historical case studies of individual leaders and their accomplishments. Believing that the organizational theorists can tell us more about congressional leadership than what we know from the congressional literature. I investigate this question by using qualitative detail and content analysis of over 5,000 newspaper articles on party leaders from 1990-2008 that come from the prominent Capitol Hill newspaperRoll Call in which I coded members of the House for Theory X and Y behavior. I show that in contrast to the congressional literature that most party leaders Democratic and Republican try to empower their rank-in file most of the time rather than trying to "strong arm" them into meeting party goals. In addition, party leaders are more collaborative and empowering when compared with other members of Congress who share many of the same background traits as they do including geography, race and occupational background but are not party leaders. These findings would be in agreement with those who would argue that leaders in the House of Representatives employ Theory Y type leadership in most situations. In the context of these findings, the evidence also provides insight into the occasions in which leaders will resort to a more Theory X, hierarchical leadership style. This has great implications not only for the study of the House of Representatives but could be expanded to look at other political institutions in the United States including the Senate and state legislatures along with parliamentary systems internationally. This dissertation will highlight a key link between organizational theory and political organizations such as Congress in a way that has never been examined before.
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