Victoria University

Thinking differently about leadership: a critical history of the form and formation of leadership studies

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dc.contributor.advisor Cummings, Stephen
dc.contributor.advisor Proctor-Thomson, Sarah Wilson, Suze 2013-08-15T03:27:27Z 2013-08-15T03:27:27Z 2013 2013
dc.description.abstract We have come to live in an age where leadership is the solution, regardless of the problem. Today, managers are called on to provide leadership which is ‘visionary’, ‘charismatic’, ‘transformational’ and ‘authentic’ in nature. This is what ‘followers’ are said to need to perform to their potential. The efforts of the academy in promoting these ideas means they are typically understood as modern, enlightened and grounded in scientific research. Taking a critical step back, this study examines why we have come to understand leadership in this way. Adopting a Foucauldian methodology, the study comprises three case studies which examine Classical Greek, 16th century European and modern scholarly discourses on leadership. The analysis foregrounds change and continuity in leadership thought and examines the underpinning assumptions, problematizations and processes of formation which gave rise to these truth claims. The relationship and subjectivity effects produced by these discourses along with their wider social function are also considered. What the study reveals is that our current understanding of leadership is not grounded in an approach more enlightened and truthful than anything that has come before. Rather, just as at other times in the past, it is contemporary problematizations, politically-informed processes of formation and the epistemological and methodological preferences of our age which profoundly shape what is understood to constitute the truth about leadership. Through showing how leadership has been thought of at different points in time, this thesis argues that far from being a stable enduring fact of human nature now revealed to us by modern science, as is typically assumed, leadership is most usefully understood as an unstable social invention, morphing in form, function and effect in response to changing norms, values and circumstances. Consistent with this understanding, a new approach to theory-building for organizational leadership studies is offered. This study shows, then, why we ought to think differently about leadership and offers a means by which this can occur. en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.subject Leadership theory en_NZ
dc.subject Foucault en_NZ
dc.subject Critical leadership studies en_NZ
dc.title Thinking differently about leadership: a critical history of the form and formation of leadership studies en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit Victoria Management School en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ Management en_NZ Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ Doctoral en_NZ Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 150311 Organisational Behaviour en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcseo 910402 Management en_NZ

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