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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Family Dynasties in the Criminal Justice System: Born Leaders, or Nepotist Opportunists?

Family Dynasties in the Criminal Justice System: Born Leaders, or Nepotist Opportunists?

Mayor Crawley and his family have held a prominent amount of influence over our local criminal justice system. Their multi generational service in office can be considered in the terms of political dynasty. This type of dynasty in criminal justice leads to several questions. Is there such as thing as a born leader? Are effective leaders people who have been shaped by the events and circumstances that they encountered in their lives? Did the various members of the Crawley family rise to positions of power and leadership due to innate personal qualities or skills of leadership acquired from experience in dealing with people? What part does social exchange theory play in the family success? Do criminal justice leaders benefit from charismatic leadership traits, or from skills gained through structured leadership training?

The term “born leader” is commonly used in popular culture when referring to someone who demonstrates leadership skills. However, there are, says Fiedler, no born leaders, “merely people with the potential to be successful leaders under certain conditions or resounding failures under other condition” (1976, p. 7). Alina contradicts Fiedler by suggesting a division in the origination of leadership; “ leaders are 1/3 born, 1/3 educated, and 1/3 is left to their choice to cultivate or not their talents.” (2013, p.213). One factor that must be explored as a potential contributor to political dynasty is the “anti-leadership” concept of nepotism, which is the “ the first principle of human political interaction” (Kuznar & Frederick, 2007, p.30). Nepotism can have the opposite results of leadership: “Working under a person who is clearly incompetent places a non-family member in a highly unattractive position” (de Vries, 1993, p.64); this applies “especially in the public sector through merit systems supposedly designed to ensure that only the most qualified applicants are hired or promoted” ( Pelletier & Bligh, 2008, p. 828). There is no evidence of nepotism in the success of the Crawley family, but neither is there evidence of effective leadership, other then the holding of political office.

Whether nepotist or meritocratic in origination, the participation in a dynastic family can have positive effects on a person's leadership traits in a similar fashion to other leaders who have been shaped by the events and circumstances that they encountered in their lives. A person growing up in the Crawley household would have been exposed to leadership issues within the criminal justice system throughout the formative years of their childhood. “This kind of knowledge may give family members a head start” (de Vries, 1993, p.63). Certainly, the drive to hold office can be “inherited”; Dal Bó, Dal Bó, and Synder suggest “that a longer tenure induces a public service vocation in some family members” (2009, p. 116).

What other traits or skills could be “inherited”?Would it be traits, or perhaps skills that would be more likely to push a leader to success? Alina continues the train of thought regarding where leadership originates, and contends that in any case, “You can't become a great leader by waiting; you have to chase every opportunity to exercise your skills” (2013, p. 213). Fiedler disputes this idea; “Empirical studies of leadership training generally reveal the same disappointing results. On the average , people with much training perform about as well as people with little or no training” (1976, p. 6). Dal Bó et al raise the possibility that “persistent inequalities in political attainment reflect hereditary inequalities in talent and drive. If traits such as talent run in families, this may yield persistent advantages to some families that are not due to their already occupying positions of authority” (2009, p. 115).

Social exchange theory may also play a part in the establishment of political dynasty. If leaders can establish loyalty and patronage through rewards systems, then a longer period in office allows for the ability “to accumulate an asset that he then bequests like financial or human capital, name recognition, or contacts.” (Dal Bó et al, 2009, p. 116 ). And, “it would appear that 'brand name' identification is worth something in politics” (Hess, 2000, para. 10). Dal Bó et al conclude that “the longer one's tenure, the more likely one is to establish a political dynasty and that this relationship is causal” (2009, P. 128).

Criminal justice leaders can benefit from charismatic leadership traits, just as they can from skills gained through structured leadership training. Using the “Adjustment “ trait of the Big Five Model, an effective leader will use the best approach for any given situation. Another perspective of this is contingency theory, which asserts that certain leaders are compatible with certain situations that change based on variables. (Haberfeld, 2013, p. 97)

Alina, M. D. (2013). Leadership between skill and competency. Manager, (17), 208-214. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1518528941?accountid=87314

Dal Bó, E., Dal Bó, P., and Snyder, J. (2009) Political dynasties. The Review of Economic Studies, Vol. 76, No. 1, pp. 115-142. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://www.jstor.org/stable/20185086

de Vries, M. K. (1993). The Dynamics of Family Controlled Firms: The Good and the Bad News. Organizational Dynamics, 21(3), 59-71. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://web.b.ebscohost.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=eecd714d-66ee-49b7-b13d-3ef7ad274967%40sessionmgr111&vid=5&hid=118

Fiedler, F. E. (1976). The Leadership Game: Matching the Man to the Situation. Organizational Dynamics, 4(3), 6-16. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://search.ebscohost.com.southuniversity.libproxy.edmc.edu/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pbh&AN=5140621&site=ehost-live&scope=site

Haberfeld, M. R. (2013). Police leadership: Organizational and managerial decision making process (2nd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Hess, S. (2000, February 27). Political Dynasties: An American Tradition. Brookings. Retrieved November 22, 2014 from http://www.brookings.edu/research/opinions/2000/02/27elections-hess

Kuznar, L. A., & Frederick, W. (2007). Simulating the effect of nepotism on political risk taking and social unrest. Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 13(1), 29-37. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10588-006-9008-1

Pelletier, K. L., & Bligh, M. C. (2008). The aftermath of organizational corruption: Employee attributions and emotional reactions. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(4), 823-844. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10551-007-9471-8

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