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John F. Kennedy -Leadership Qualities That Moved A Nation

Hald-Mortensen, Christian (2007) John F. Kennedy -Leadership Qualities That Moved A Nation. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Leadership studies ask 'what makes an effective leader?' To answer this question analyses have to become practical and real-world oriented. The research question in this thesis is: 'How can the three factors - vision, decision-making style, and delegation - explain whether John F. Kennedy was an effective President?'While there are many other leadership factors such as integrity, political/legislative skills and communications skills three factors were chosen. 'Vision' mobilizes external support for the leader's overarching goals, and charts out a national direction. 'Decision making style' focuses on the 'internal', process-oriented aspects of leadership. The Delegation factor assesses what competence and perspectives that will bring input into the decision-making which will carry out the vision.The research methodology has been to conduct a single case study. His two year and ten months Presidency was short but contained several important Cold War eventsivThe Vision HypothesisA President will be effective if he has a compelling vision of the future of AmericaThe MA thesis tested whether 'The New Frontier' was a successful vision from which visionary initiatives were derived. The Moon Project was the most ambitious national scientific project in two decades, propelling the U.S. for-ward in the space race.JFK's ideas on peaceful cooperation with the Soviets were a consequence of the Cuban Missile Crisis. The vision was enunciated with his 'Strategy of Peace' speech at American University, in which he pledged for a pause in the Cold War, and announced the signing of the Test Ban Treaty.In the selected cases he strived to educate the American public on urgent needs by pursuing longer-term goals in the interest of national security.The Decision Making Style HypothesisA President will be effective if he has a competent personal decision making styleThe thesis tested whether President JFK had an effective personal decision making style. JFK often took issues out of the bureaucratic system in time to defend his own right to decide and his own right of innovation. JFK's collegial decision making model was a consensus-seeking vehicle which ensured that problems were debated through cross-fertilization.vThe Delegation Hypothesis:A President will be effective if he delegates with an eye to his political controlJFK knew what he was looking for in every position. Secretary of State Dean Rusk was probably chosen because JFK had conceived a greater role for himself in this area. Recent scholarly work has demonstrated that JFK was one of the most engaged Presidents in foreign affairs. Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara was chosen as a rational, intelligent civilian that could provide political control over the military establishment.Speech Writer Ted Sorensen knew JFK's intellectual ideas, and they cooperated closely on the speeches of the Administration. JFK relied on external advisors to balance decision-making information, and the British Ambassador Ormsby-Gore saw his ideas being put into use with regards to the quarantine line in the Cuban Missile Crisis.JFK's selection of advisors reflected the strengths and weaknesses of his own policy experience, demonstrating what Neustadt calls a 'rare' fine distinction among his 'fellow kings'.The thesis concludes by briefly testing the three factors in a comparison between President JFK and President George W. Bush, and finds that the current administration seems to have set too ambitious goals in its vision lacking good contextual intelligence.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairGoldstein, Donald Mgoldy@gspia.pitt.eduGOLDY
Committee MemberKearns, Kevin Pkkearns@gspia.pitt.eduKKEARNS
Committee MemberHaley, Leon Llhaley@pitt.eduLHALEY
Date: 2 May 2007
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 March 2007
Approval Date: 2 May 2007
Submission Date: 6 April 2007
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public and International Affairs > Public and International Affairs
Degree: MPIA - Master of Public and International Affairs
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1960's; Decision-Making; John F. Kennedy; Leadership; Presidency; Vision
Other ID:, etd-04062007-144728
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:34
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:38


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