The subject of this thesis is detailing the six major leadership theories and diagnosing the factors that led to changes in leadership theory over time. The difference between leadership and management is explained and examples are provided to help distinguish the two. Based on the research that was conducted, management and leadership are two separate, yet interrelated concepts. The suggestion that one is always more effective than the other is false. The two each have instances where one is more effective and should be favored, although neither is perfect for every situation. The primary role of a manager within an organization is to be a doer while the role of the leader is to be a visionary. The following theories are discussed in this thesis: Great Man Theory of Leadership, Trait Theory of Leadership, Behavioral Theory of Leadership, Contingency Theory of Leadership, Transactional Theory of Leadership, and Transformational Theory of Leadership. After, the theories are described, weaknesses of the specific theories are presented, as discussed in current literature. After analyzing the specific theories, attention was given to the potential drivers of leadership theory change. Ultimately, economic fluctuations and changes in social norms were found to be two main drivers of theory evolution. Conclusions and recommendations are then drawn.

Semester/Year of Award

Fall 12-9-2017


Marcel Robles

Mentor Professional Affiliation

Management, Marketing, and International Business

Access Options

Restricted Access Thesis

Document Type

Bachelor Thesis

Degree Name

Honors Scholars

Degree Level




Department Name when Degree Awarded

Accounting, Finance, and Information Systems