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Award 22 April 2022

Doctoral Student Wins AGRH Thesis Award

A TSM doctoral student in Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour won the prestigious 2022 academic prize of the Association francophone de Gestion des Ressources Humaines (AGRH). Anthony Perrier received this distinction for his thesis on the servant leadership style in fire service.

 

"It is an honour and a great surprise for me to receive this prize", explains the 42-year-old self-financed doctoral student, who has the particularity of having worked - and continued to work during his thesis - for several years as a firefighter. For him, his thesis was a way of paying tribute to his profession, while "firefighters are the subject of limited literature in management sciences".

Dr. Perrier's thesis is concerned with the study of a leadership approach that consists of putting oneself at the service of one's colleagues. It contrasts sharply with other leadership styles that seek to influence and motivate employees from a position of power.

 

Managerial Failure

Over the last twenty years, "firefighters have had to deal with both an increase in the number of emergency interventions and a diversification in the nature of their missions", explains Anthony Perrier. Among the main causes of death highlighted by the literature, several can be directly linked to managerial failure.

"Given these issues," continues the doctoral student in his thesis, "it seems necessary to rethink the role of the hierarchical superior in the fire service because he or she occupies a central position in influencing the behaviour of subordinates.

 

Sir Ernest Shackleton

Anthony Perrier therefore looked at one of the 66 existing leadership styles, servant leadership, which emerged in the 1970s and whose appeal can be explained by a societal expectation. "It is the leadership style of the Great North explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton", summarises the doctoral student, namely that of placing the needs of his subordinates and team members above his own. 

The servant leader takes the time to listen to everyone's point of view, offers support and actively seeks to instill a sense of community within his team or organisation. Rather than seeking to strengthen their own position, assert their power or increase their influence, the servant leader is primarily concerned with the development and well-being of each member of their team. 

In order to test how leadership can positively affect the psychological health and performance of individuals, Anthony Perrier conducted two studies with teams of firefighters in the South-West of France and in Toulouse, where he worked for 15 years. "What Mr. Perrier's thesis highlights is that there is no such thing as good leadership in the absolute. Servant leadership is only effective if the employees are receptive and need this approach at that moment", underlines Caroline Manville, his thesis co-director at the Toulouse School of Management.

The AGRH academic prize that Anthony Perrier received is intended to reward the thesis that best meets the criteria of methodological rigour, theoretical roots and conceptual contribution expected of a thesis in management sciences. 

 

Next step : Toulouse Business School

This recognition allows it to participate in the FNEGE Prize for the transdisciplinary thesis in Management, which will take place in Paris on 2 June 2022. FNEGE is the National Foundation for Business Management Education whose mission is to develop and promote higher education in management in France. "The FNEGE Prize is a bit like the Masters in the TV show Questions pour un Champion, but applied to management disciplines," Anthony Perrier sums up with a smile. 

A page is being turned professionally for the doctoral student, who is leaving his duties as a firefighter in August and embarking on a teaching career. He has accepted the position of Assistant Professor in Organisational Behaviour at the Toulouse Business School starting in September 2022.

 

Read Anthony Perrier's thesis