Leadership-as-Practice: Theory and Application (Paperback) book cover


Theory and Application

Edited by Joseph A. Raelin

© 2016 – Routledge (Supplementary (DRM-Free))

310 pages | 14 B/W Illus.

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This book develops a new paradigm in the field of leadership studies, referred to as the "leadership-as-practice" (L-A-P) movement. Its essence is its conception of leadership as occurring as a practice rather than residing in the traits or behaviours of particular individuals. A practice is a coordinative effort among participants who choose through their own rules to achieve a distinctive outcome. It also tends to encompass routines as well as problem-solving or coping skills, often tacit, that are shared by a community. Accordingly, leadership-as-practice is less about what one person thinks or does and more about what people may accomplish together. It is thus concerned with how leadership emerges and unfolds through day-to-day experience. The social and material contingencies impacting the leadership constellation – the people who are effecting leadership at any given time – do not reside outside of leadership but are very much embedded within it. To find leadership, then, we must look to the practice within which it is occurring.           

The leadership-as-practice approach resonates with a number of closely related traditions, such as collective, shared, distributed, and relational leadership, that converge on leadership processes. These approaches share a line of inquiry that acknowledges leadership as a social phenomenon. The new focus opens up a plethora of research opportunities encouraging the study of social processes beyond influence, such as intersubjective agency, shared sense-making, dialogue, and co-construction of responsibilities.


"At last, a piercing and comprehensive account of the philosophical and methodological implications of seeing leadership as a collective accomplishment. Some of the most authoritative thinkers have contributed the fruits of their diverse researches, coordinated by Joe Raelin’s excellent editorial scene-setting; the whole adds up to what will surely be a land-mark text in leadership studies."Jonathan Gosling, Professor Emeritus, University of Exeter

"This book collects powerful statements from notable scholars in the emergent Leadership-as-Practice field, and confirms it as a rich alternative to the under-socialised accounts of leadership that prevail so widely. Leadership-as-Practice: Theory and Application will be an essential reference point for researchers in this and related fields." –Richard Whittington, Saïd Business School, University of Oxford

"Leadership-as-Practice introduces the reader to a new paradigm that moves our field beyond the traditional views of leaders and how they can be developed. This interesting and well-researched book is authored by leading theorists from around the world and should be required reading for all scholars and students in the field of management. I highly recommend this book!" –Michael Marquardt, George Washington University

"Leadership-as-practice is less about what one person thinks or does and more about what people may accomplish together. It is thus concerned with how leadership emerges and unfolds through day-to-day experience… Overall, the book provides a rich alternative to traditional views on leadership and leadership development." –Rick Holden, Liverpool John Moores University, UK

Table of Contents

1. Introduction Introductionto Leadership-as-Practice: Theory and Application Joseph A. Raelin Part 1: Background 2. Mapping the Leadership-as-Practice Terrain: Comparative Elements Lucia Crevani and Nada Endrissat 3. The Philosophical Basis of Leadership-as-Practice from a Hermeneutical Perspective Ann Cunliffe and Paul Hibbert 4. Democratic Roots: Feeding the Multiple Dimensions of Leadership-as-Practice Philip A. Woods Part 2: Embodied Nature 5. Leadership as Identity: A Practice-Based Exploration Brigid Carroll 6. Who’s Leading the Way: Investigating the Contributions of Materiality to Leadership-as-Practice Viviane Sergi 7. Turning Leadership Inside-Out and Back-to-Front: A Dialogical Hermeneutical Account John Shotter Part 3: Social Interactions 8. Where’s the Agency in Leadership-as-Practice? Barbara Simpson 9 Developing Leadership as Dialogic Practice Kenneth Gergen and Lone Hersted 10. Conversational Travel and the Identification of Leadership Phenomena Caroline Ramsey Part 4: Application 11. Gendered Relationships and the Problem of Diversity in Leadership-as-Practice Jackie Ford 12. Methodologies to Discover and Challenge Leadership-as-Practice Stephen Kempster, Ken Parry, and Brad Jackson 13. Doing Leadership-as-Practice Development David Denyer and Kim Turnbull James

About the Editor

Joseph A. Raelin is Professor of Management and Organization Development at Northeastern University, USA.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Leadership Research

Routledge are pleased to announce a new research series focusing on leadership. Designed for scholars and researchers within the field, as well as executives and administrators, it will reflect cutting edge international leadership research. Relevant to all aspects of business conduct for individuals and organizations, books in this new series will analyse emerging and critical perspectives on leadership research, and reflect the discipline from organizational and political perspectives as well as those of individual leaders such as CEOs.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Human Resources & Personnel Management