ISBN 9781422101988,Paths to Power : How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership

Paths to Power : How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership



Harvard Universal Press

Publication Year 2007

ISBN 9781422101988

ISBN-10 1422101983


Number of Pages 292 Pages
Language (English)


Are the doors of access open equally for all in business? Are talent and hard work really enough to make it to the top? As much as we would like to believe in the American meritocracy, an elusive class system exists where a small group of "insiders" possesses advantages that facilitate a smooth and relatively easy journey to the top, whereas a larger group of "outsiders" faces disadvantages that make their path to leadership positions more difficult. Though open access is a myth, authors Anthony J. Mayo, Nitin Nohria, and Laura G. Singleton find that throughout the history of American business, the composition of insiders and outsiders has been open to redefinition and even today remains in constant flux. And, even though it appears that white men still hold the majority of positions of power just as they did 100 years ago, the gates of access are not as static as they might appear. What mechanisms of access are really at work, and what does this evolving portrait of access mean for the future of leadership? Paths to Power is the second book (In Their Time was the first) to come from the HBS Leadership Initiative's Great Business Leaders Project, one of the largest academic studies of its kind on leadership and its evolution over the course of the 20th century. This important work sheds new light onto the changing demographic composition of American business leadership and reveals why these subtle changes are in fact quite groundbreaking (indeed it "...would be enough to cause a resuscitated J.P. Morgan or Thomas Watson to look at today's corporate landscape and collapse with shock."). Through a combination of statistical analysis of their large leadership database and in-depth biographical sketches of those who did make it to the top during the last century, this book reveals the mechanisms of advancement for both insiders and outsiders and speculates on what this means for the future of leadership selection and development.

About the Author
Nitin Nohria is the dean of Harvard Business School. Prior to his appointment as dean, Nohria served in a number of senior positions at HBS including co-chair of the Leadership Initiative; senior associate dean of faculty development; and head of the organizational behavior unit. Particular areas of research interest and expertise include motivation; leadership; corporate transformation and accountability; and sustainable economic and human performance.

Nohria is the author, co-author or co-editor of 16 books and over 50 journal articles, book chapters and working papers. His most recent work is the Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, co-edited with Rakesh Khurana (who is also in the Thinkers 50), which assembles the latest thinking on leadership as related by various experts who attended a leadership colloquium organized by Nohria during the School's centennial celebrations.

Nohria's trilogy (with Anthony J. Mayo and others) In Their Time: The Greatest Business Leaders of the 20th Century (2005); Paths to Power: How Insiders and Outsiders Shaped American Business Leadership (2007); and Entrepreneurs, Managers, and Leaders: Leadership Lessons from the Airline Industry (2009), looks at the history of American leadership. Across the three books Nohria examined the lives of great leaders, their routes to power, and lessons that can be learnt from them.

Other books by Nohria include Driven: How Human Nature Shapes our Choices (2001); The Arc of Ambition: Defining the Leadership Journey (2000), written with James Champy; and What Really Works: The 4+2 Formula for Sustained Business Success (2003), with William Joyce and Bruce Roberson