An analysis of the perception of leadership within the Boy Scouts of America

Jimmy Iljin Kim, Pace University


The goal of this doctoral project is to contribute to our understanding of leadership in early and late adolescence within the context of an extracurricular activity such as Scouting. Specifically, it aims to identify the characteristics of Scouts elected to leadership roles in the patrol and compare and contrast the schemata used by Scouts and the troop's Adult Leaders in deciding who will hold those roles. Although this project is based on Edwards's 1994 study, it is also suspected that variables other than those listed on the Managerial, Empathic, Popularity, and Affiliative subscales may play a factor in the selection of a Patrol Leader. This study aims to explore these other factors that may affect the perception of a leader such as rank progression, experience of the Scout, and the formal election to the post of Patrol Leader. Most recently, the literature on styles of adult leadership has focused upon distinguishing between two gender-linked leadership styles: (1) the “masculine,” characterized by a task or managerial orientation purportedly concerned with the immediate task demands of a situation and (2) the “feminine,” characterized by an empathic orientation, focused on harmony within the group (Edwards, 1994). Most of the research on leadership has focused on adults (especially those operating within the corporate setting). Rarely has leadership in children and adolescents been investigated. Studied were 126 male Scouts in ten troops from the Queens Council of the Boy Scouts of America in Queens, New York. Parental Consent forms and the Demographic Information Questionnaire were given to the parents, Scout Assent forms and Guess Who? Scales to the Scouts, and the Adult Leader Rating Scales were administered to the Scoutmasters. This study sought to examine the perceived characteristics of leadership in the formalized, structured environment of the Boy Scouts of America. There were indicators of particular styles of leadership that may also play a factor in other same gender organizations during this developmental period for children. An examination of leadership characteristics was conducted along with an assessment of how it corresponded to peer and adult perceptions of leadership within this democratic elective process of selecting a patrol leader. Not only managerial skills, but also characteristics of empathy, popularity, and affiliativeness were found to be related to holding the office of Patrol Leader. Also related were rank and length of time in the Scouts, suggesting a progression in responsibility. Most of these positive characteristics were replicated for informal leaders nominated by adults as well.

Subject Area

Personality|Developmental psychology

Recommended Citation

Kim, Jimmy Iljin, "An analysis of the perception of leadership within the Boy Scouts of America" (2003). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3108841.



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