International Relations Leadership in International Affairs
Joseph Cerami
  • LAST REVIEWED: 11 August 2020
  • LAST MODIFIED: 02 March 2011
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199743292-0059


The literature on leadership in international affairs is interdisciplinary and, of course, extensive. For the purpose of this bibliography, leadership is considered as the art of influencing people, organizations, and institutions to accomplish specific purposes, such as missions that serve public and national interests. There are three starting assumptions for developing this bibliography. One assumption is that a bibliography of leadership in international affairs involves writings that assist leaders and managers for public service in government and nonprofit organizations that have significant responsibilities in the international and national-security policy (foreign, defense, and homeland), intelligence, and international-economics policy arenas. A public service orientation is centered primarily, but not exclusively, within the context of the institutions, organizations, and people engaged in governance—in international and public affairs. In brief, the bibliography is centered on writing that assists in addressing real-world leadership challenges and problems for both academics and practitioners. A second assumption is that this kind of bibliography should cover the study of both the leading theories and practices of public executives. Leadership knowledge and skill development include being grounded in a variety of theoretical perspectives on leadership and management by examining the scholarly literature and relevant research and case studies, as well as studying personal, interpersonal, and group skills. A third assumption is that the study of leadership should include the notion of leading change or change management. There are broader themes here regarding the changing international environment, the demands for institutional and organizational innovation and reform to adapt to those changes, and the impact of these demands on politicians and public managers, as ethical leaders, at all levels (participative, organizational, and institutional) and frequently working across multiple sectors (public, private, and nonprofit). The ideas of leadership and innovation and public-sector institutional and organizational reform, all in the context of a turbulent strategic environment, are worthy of attention. The distinctive approach for this bibliography includes meeting several objectives for the study of leadership in international affairs by examining the contrasting theories and conceptual frameworks from the interdisciplinary literature on leading and managing people, organizations, and institutions; the roles and functions of leaders and managers as executives in public institutions and organizations that engage in multisectoral activities such as public-private-nonprofit partnerships; the research on the theories and practices of critical personal, interpersonal, and group skills for developing effective and ethical public-sector officials in international affairs; and three current themes on leadership and management in international affairs: (1) the state, governance, and world order; (2) public service and the roles of public executives; and (3) personal, organizational, and institutional leadership, innovation, and change.

General Overviews

The interdisciplinary literature on leadership includes books targeted for academic fields, such as political science, psychology, and management, as well as for specific sectors, namely, public, private, and nonprofit organizations. These variations account for the multiple definitions of leadership and the growing number of leadership concepts and approaches to leader development. Below are books that are important for understanding major approaches to leadership in international affairs from the perspectives of the main academic disciplines. Allison and Zelikow 1999, Kissinger 1994, Kellerman 2008, and Nye 2008 provide insights from political science, history, and international relations. Goleman, et al. 2002 is a book on emotional intelligence that highlights psychology. Kotter 1999 and Kouzes and Posner 2007 reflect research stemming primarily, but not exclusively, from business-management schools. Northouse 2010 provides summary chapters in a textbook fashion that address mainstream leadership theories from the field of leadership studies.

  • Allison, Graham, and Philip Zelikow. Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis. 2d ed. New York: Longman, 1999.

    Essential framework for thinking about leadership in policy and decision making. Models for analysis include the rational actor, organizational behavior, and governmental politics. The chapters on each model include a thorough review from the relevant interdisciplinary literature. Includes an important update of the authors’ Cuban Missile Crisis case study.

  • Goleman, Daniel, Richard Boyatzis, and Annie McKee. Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.

    Introduces research from neuroscience and the concept of emotional intelligence. Includes chapters on resonant and dissonant leadership styles, personal leader development, and team and organizational development.

  • Kellerman, Barbara. Followership: How Followers Are Creating Change and Changing Leaders. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2008.

    Kellerman directly addresses the lack of research and thinking in the field about the role of followers. Provides a typology along with examples of followers based upon their level of engagement: isolated, bystander, participant, activist, and diehard.

  • Kissinger, Henry. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994.

    Chapters focus on historical cases from US and European history. Kissinger centers the book on the concepts of realism and idealism. He provides insights on statecraft, involving chief executives as statesmen, diplomats, and policymakers. The book includes insights from his experience as secretary of state and national security adviser.

  • Kotter, John P. John P. Kotter on What Leaders Really Do. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 1999.

    Remains an essential book, from the business-school perspective, on change management. Continues the threads in his previous work on leading change and the extraordinary difficulties and high failure rates of efforts at transformational change. Distinguishes different roles for leaders and managers.

  • Kouzes, James M., and Barry Z. Posner. The Leadership Challenge. 4th ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007.

    Popular best seller from among the many books that stress best practices. Presents five practices, encouraging “exemplary” leaders to model the way, inspire shared vision, challenge processes, enable, and motivate others.

  • Northouse, Peter G. Leadership: Theory and Practice. 5th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE, 2010.

    Textbook that concisely reviews leadership concepts and theories. Chapters address trait, skill, style, and psychodynamic approaches; contingency, path-goal, and leader-member exchange theory; and transformational, team, and ethical leadership. Additional chapters cover recent literature on “Women and Leadership” and “Culture and Leadership.” Each chapter includes a summary of strengths, criticisms, applications, case studies, and references.

  • Nye, Joseph S., Jr., The Powers to Lead. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

    Short, analytical primer from a Harvard professor, former dean, and high-level public official. Includes research on the gaps in the current leadership literature, especially the lack of research on leadership in public and international affairs identified in public leadership surveys. His focus is on smart power, and he identifies styles and skills for leaders in modern democratic societies. Also discusses contextual and emotional intelligence and ethical leadership.

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