On March 23, 2010 Dr. Robert Trapp, former President of the National Parliamentary Debate Association (NPDA), posted a message to the parli listserve (parli-l) suggesting the final round of the national tournament lacked the sub-stance and nuance that the community should see in debate. Trapp’s post reflects a larger issue in the NPDA—the emergent divide and disparate organizational cultures emerging over the organization’s short lifetime. This paper investigates the often discussed, but still under-developed relationship between leadership and culture in mission-based organizations by analyzing the discourse of cultural leadership in the NPDA from 1994 to 1999. Findings suggest that the organizational challenges in the NPDA today are strongly linked to failures in the organization’s early leaders to codify the shared values and mission of the organization. In fact, the leaders seemed to actively create a discourse of disdain for official clarity in organizational mission and purpose during its formative years. Theoretical and future implications are discussed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License