Expert Leaders in a Fast-Moving Environment

54 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2012

See all articles by Amanda H. Goodall

Amanda H. Goodall

IZA Institute for the Study of Labor

Ganna Pogrebna

Columbia University


This paper is an attempt to understand the effects of leaders on organizational performance. We argue for an ‘expert leader’ model of leadership. We differentiate between four kinds of leaders according to their level of inherent knowledge and industry experience. After controlling for confounding variables, teams led by leaders with extensive knowledge of the core business perform better than others. Our study collects and analyses 60 years of data from one of the world’s most competitive high-technology sectors (Formula 1 competition) in which each organization’s performance can be measured objectively. We show that the most successful team leaders in F1 motor racing are more likely to have started their careers as drivers and mechanics compared with leaders who were principally managers or engineers with degrees. There is a notable association between driving and later success as a leader. Within the sub-sample of former drivers, those with the longest driving careers go on to be the most successful leaders.

Keywords: expert leaders, leadership, organizational performance, high-tech, teams

JEL Classification: J33, M5, D22, O32, J24

Suggested Citation

Goodall, Amanda H. and Pogrebna, Ganna, Expert Leaders in a Fast-Moving Environment. IZA Discussion Paper No. 6715. Available at SSRN:

Amanda H. Goodall (Contact Author)

IZA Institute for the Study of Labor ( email )

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 5-9
Bonn, 53113

Ganna Pogrebna

Columbia University ( email )

419 Schermerhorn Hall
New York, NY 10027
United States


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