1999 James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award
Fred E. Fielder
University of Washington
For more than 40 years, Fred Fiedler has made significant, creative, and sustained scientific contributions to our understanding of leadership and group behavior. He has attempted to define the nature of situational variables that interact with certain attributes of individuals in leadership roles to produce effective performance of work groups.
His Contingency Theory of Leadership has been a major influence in the field of leadership research. Before his work, the search for general, pervasive characteristics of leaders was dominant. His research changed this limited focus forever. His contingency model and his more recent work on cognitive resource utilization have emerged via the interaction of ideas and data, in a wide range of settings, utilizing a divers set of dependent group effectiveness measures, including profits in industrial organizations, accuracy of survey teams, safety in mines, and performance athletic teams, bomber crews, army tank units, open-hearth steel shops, and boards of directors.
He has also contributed significantly to several other areas of psychology, including the prediction of clinical effectiveness, management of stress, improving intergroup relations, and the psychology of safety management. Fiedler’s findings have been used for designing training, selection, and leader development programs. His work is an outstanding example of the interplay of theoretical reasoning, empirical research, and application.