Towards communication and learning based leadership: Observations in Finnish public research organizations

Eveliina Saari, Heli Talja

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    5 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose – Management systems designed for the purposes of the industrial era are not sufficient to rise to the challenge of knowledge‐creating organizations. This paper seeks to analyse how the motives and aims of top management and knowledge workers differ from each other. In order to avoid confrontation between managerialism and research work logic, the paper suggests building up a communication and learning‐based leadership model.

    Design/methodology/approach – Based on findings from the previous research projects, the paper analyses the challenges arising from the gap between top‐down type management and the research built on a bottom‐up basis. The empirical observations are based on the studies of organizational changes and development of research groups in Finnish public research organizations.

    Findings – The paper presents four new constructions that the management and personnel of a research organization tend to interpret very differently: the tension between freedom and control, formation of research strategies, applicability of business management models to research organizations, and the meaning of structural changes.

    Practical implications – The paper offers guidelines for constructing dialogue between managers and knowledge workers and highlights the importance of embedding communication and learning as an integral part of a knowledge organization's practice. Crossing of positions and building up accessible arenas and forms for continuous communication between managers and employees are encouraged.

    Originality/value – The four constructions present a new framework for understanding the worldviews of top managers and employees in knowledge creating organizations when facing the challenges of globalization.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)251-260
    Number of pages10
    JournalLearning Organization
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2009
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • Communication
    • Knowledge organizations
    • Leadership
    • Learning
    • Research and development


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