TAMIU Professor Menaldo
Publishes Book on Leadership
A new book by a Texas A&M International University (TAMIU) assistant professor challenges current perceptions about what motivates leaders. The book, “Leadership and Transformative Ambition in International Relations,” (New Horizons in Leadership Studies) will be released in the U.S. in December and is currently in print in the United Kingdom.
“I wrote this book in an attempt to overcome both the boundaries of academic specialization in my field and the narrow social science model that views political actors as self-interested,” Dr. Mark Menaldo, assistant professor, international and American politics.
Dr. Mark Menaldo
“I am not only interested in the actual perspectives of the flesh-and-bone individuals working within politics, but hold out the possibility that statesmen possess political wisdom that we can learn from,” he added.
In the book, Dr. Menaldo critiques prevailing realist, rational choice and personality theories of international relations for conceiving of leadership too narrowly.
He introduces the theory of transformative ambition—the idea that some leaders transcend domestic and international political constraints and, as a result, fundamentally reshape their domestic policy while introducing change to the international system.
“Leaders with transformative ambition are moved by principles, such as the establishment of a new political regime, the defense of free politics and the desire to raise the rank of one’s nation, which drive them to boldly reshape fundamental features of domestic society,” Menaldo explained.
In order to accomplish such tasks, leaders may seek to reorder domestic institutions, to propose new policies and establish new doctrines, and to rethink the ideals that animate their counties.
“Drawing on Aristotle’s idea of magnanimity and Niccolo Machiavelli’s lessons to princes through his examples of great founders, I’ve illustrated how great leaders throughout time accomplish great goals through the force of their vision, character and practice of statesmanship. The political leaders I examine make bold and sweeping changes to domestic and international politics,” Menaldo said.
Case studies include Otto Von Bismark, Latin America’s autocrats, Woodrow Wilson, Charles de Gaulle and Pericles.
Aspiring leaders, people in positions of leadership, students and scholars of international politics, history, political thought and psychology should read this book.
“This book is a remarkable example of creative synthesis of political philosophy, international relations, leadership studies and history. It serves as a model of interdisciplinary scholarship and genuine liberal learning,” Menaldo said.
He took three years to write the book, but started working on it in 2007. He is currently working on a project which will compare Latin America’s liberal experiments in México, Argentina and Venezuela after independence through each country’s reform period. He is currently teaching a graduate seminar on this topic.
“The students and I are mystified by the epic rise and tragic ends of Latin America’s greatest political leaders,” he said.
“I owe a debt of gratitude to my colleagues at TAMIU for their unwavering support in this early phase of my career. I would also like to thank my students who were participants in seminars I taught where the ideas for the book took shape,” Menaldo said.
Menaldo earned his Ph.D. in political science from Michigan State University. He joined TAMIU in 2009.
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