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Leadership in the Fashion Industry

Leadership plays an important role in the success of any organization. In industries that rely on individual creativity there are unique challenges, and we therefore fi nd similarities in the way work is organized. The size and scope of the fi rm will have an impact on how the organization is structured, as will the demands of a particular industry.

Styles of leadership arise in response to these and other factors. Here I will consider the factors shaping leadership in creative enterprises, specifi cally the fashion industry, and will look at the role that leaders play in several fashion design fi rms. Howard Davis and Richard Scase (2000) look at management practices in creative organizations. They argue that creative work requires a fl exible, “anti-bureaucratic” style of management that is found in many traditional or charismatic organizations.

Mechanisms of formal control are relatively less developed,” instead, we are likely to fi nd shared values and an “informal” and “collegial” work environment (2000: 99-100). Work is coordinated through an understanding of the “founder’s vision” or other “clearly defi ned goals.” The personal charisma of the founding entrepreneur or the tradition provides “the glue that holds the organization together” (2000: 100). Creativity cannot be precisely defi ned and measured, as it is a result of self-expression; freedom from constraints is a necessary prerequisite (2000: 9).

Creative companies, they say, have a less clearly defi ned hierarchical management structure (2000: 13-14). Davis and Scase state that “there are several structural constraints on the extent to which work processes can be standardized and determined by hierarchical methods of management” (2000: 15). They acknowledge that, despite the unsuitability of a standardized hierarchical approach to creative work, some fi rms do use a variation of such a form of administration. Commercial bureaucracies are where formal and explicit coordination and control are used “exploit” creativity

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