Criticism of the Transactional Leadership Theory with an Emphasis on the Quran Verses

Document Type : scientific



Transactional leadership is counteractive in itself. James McGregor Burns (1978) distinguished between transactional leaders and transformational by explaining that: transactional leaders are leaders who exchange tangible rewards for the work and loyalty of followers. Transactional leaders tend to be more passive as transformational leaders demonstrate active behaviors that include providing a sense of mission. Transactional leaders are concerned with processes rather than forward-thinking ideas. These types of leaders focus on contingent reward (also known as contingent positive reinforcement) or contingent penalization (also known as contingent negative reinforcement). Contingent rewards (such as praise) are given when the set goals are accomplished on-time, ahead of time, or to keep subordinates working at a good pace at different times throughout completion. Transactional leaders use reward and punishments to gain compliance from their followers. They are extrinsic motivators that bring minimal compliance from followers. They accept goals, structure, and the culture of the existing organization. Transactional leaders tend to be directive and action-oriented.
Transactional leaders are willing to work within existing systems and negotiate to attain goals of the organization. They tend to think inside the box when solving problems. Transactional leadership is primarily passive. The behaviors most associated with this type of leadership are establishing the criteria for rewarding followers and maintaining the status quo. Within transactional leadership, there are two factors, contingent reward and management-by-exception. Contingent reward provides rewards for effort and recognizes good performance. Management-by-exception maintains the status quo, intervenes when subordinates do not meet acceptable performance levels, and initiates corrective action to improve performance.
There have been a number of criticisms leveled against transactional leadership typically proposed by management scholars e.g. Burns (1978) argued that transactional leadership practices lead followers to short-term relationships of exchange with the leader. These relationships tend toward shallow, temporary exchanges of gratification and often create resentments between the participants. Additionally, a number of scholars criticize transactional leadership theory because it utilizes a one-size-fits-all universal approach to leadership theory construction that disregards situational and contextual factors related organizational challenges. It is believed that this theory does not match the needs of today's organizations. On the other hand, the divine school of Islam expresses very delicate, elegant and precise views that demonstrate its special outlook on human, progress and elevation, the one which is neglected in mainstream schools of management.
This research paper aims at criticism of the transactional leadership and tries to propose the ground-breaking comprehensive views extracted from the Quran. The method of research was based on the intra and extra structural critique. In intra structural critique, the purpose of research is evaluation of the cohesion and the solidarity of the theory entities and the harmony between the theory contents and its principles and foundations. In extra structural critique, the theory is examined in terms of their conformity with other related theories and its compliance with Islamic assumptions.
In extra structural critique, this theory has strengthening significant points that led to the emergence of transformational theory. Meditating the Quran verses shows that the concepts suggested in this theory are also articulated in the Quran with more breadth and richness. In contemplating the Quranic verses, primarily the concepts related to the categories of transactional leadership theory were extracted and classified and next the Quran's comprehensive precise views on human, supervision and monitoring, reward and punishment are enunciated clearly and in detail.


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