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Critical Leadership Studies: The Case For Critical Performativity

Research Cluster

Speaker:Mats Alvesson & Andre Spicer, Lund University & Warwick University
Date: Tuesday 28 June 2011
Time: 16:30 - 17:45
Location: Streatham Court B

Further details

Existing accounts of leadership are underpinned by two dominant approaches: functionalist studies which have tried to identify factors which ‘cause’ or are ‘outcomes’ of leadership, and interpretive studies which have tried to trace out the meaning making process associated with leadership. Eschewing these approaches, we turn to an emerging strand of literature that develops a critical approach to leadership. This literature draws our attention to the dialectics of control and resistance and the ideological aspect of leadership. However, it largely posits a negative critique of leadership. We think this is legitimate and important, but it should not exhaust a critical research agenda. In order to extend this agenda, we posit a performative critique of leadership which emphasises tactics of circumspect care, progressive pragmatism and searching for present potentialities. We use these tactics to sketch out a practice of deliberated leadership that involves collective reflection on when, what kind and if leadership is appropriate. We conclude by drawing out what this means for future empirical studies and more practical engagement with leadership.