Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Business (Management)


School of Business


Faculty of Business And Public Management

First Supervisor

Dr Patricia Morrigan


This study is in response to globalisation, changing world values and the call in modern literature for leaders of good character. Servant-leadership is offered to fill this requirement because its effectiveness is said to be reliant on the good character of the leader. In the literature this type of leadership is said to represent a new paradigm. The work of servant-leadership’s proponent, Robert Greenleaf, is thoroughly examined to explain how his understanding of trust as faith is linked to spirituality and this is the key to understanding the character of servant-leaders. Greenleaf’s work is compared with the modern servant-leadership literature and identifies a gap in the literature explaining Greenleaf’s spirituality. This is a qualitative analysis using classical Grounded Theory and uses the work of Anthony Giddens to give it a modern sociological grounding. Classical Grounded Theory uses typologies or “created groups” to give meaning to the way in which participants view their circumstance. The application of Giddens’ work allows for the data analysis to incorporate the historical social context that has shaped the views of the participants. Greenleaf and Giddens share the same understanding of trust and this alignment of Giddens and Greenleaf permeates the work. Giddens identifies two types of trust, which this research has termed Reciprocal Trust, and Trust as Principle. The research gives an explanation of the two types of trust and argues that understanding Trust as Principle is the key to understanding new paradigm thought. It is also the key to understanding character in terms of servant-leadership character. The research for this thesis was carried out in an organisation that until recently had been a government entity and for the purpose of this research is given the fictitious name of Railcorp. The historical circumstances of Railcorp have led to major dysfunctions, which are inhibiting the business progress of the company. There is a crisis of culture and a crisis in leadership. There is evidence of servant-leadership existing in Railcorp and these leaders have a vital role in providing the new leadership required to take Railcorp forward.