1st Edition

Leadership-as-Practice Theory and Application

Edited By Joseph Raelin Copyright 2016
    324 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    310 Pages 14 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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.

    1. Introduction Introduction to 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


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

    "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

    "I highly recommend Raelin’s edited Leadership-as-Practice collection because of the range of contributors considering L-A-P from different perspectives. Each of the authors engages the reader through a series of critical questions, which are required to further develop and understand L-A-P more broadly both within and outside the Academy. The book is particularly useful for academics researching and teaching leadership, and for senior students, including Masters and Doctoral candidates researching leadership related topics." - Sarah I. Leberman, Massey University, New Zealand

    "Overall, ‘Leadership-as-practice’ is a significant contribution to the extant literature on leadership from which a more critically and reflexive form of management education (Clegg & Ross-Smith, 2003; Cuncliffe, 2002; 2004) will undoubtedly benefit. As such, we may not only wish to incorporate it into our students’ reading materials but also consider ways in which MBA, EMBA and other postgraduate students may be able to ‘experience’ the potential of L-A-P in and outside of the classroom: through raising awareness about leadership as an emergent social process; strengthening reflexivity about existing leadership practices; bringing in the learner’s contexts more explicitly; and taking into consideration the emotional and political dynamics of their organisational environments (Denyson & Turnbull, Chapter 13). The book deserves the attention of management educators and may indeed assist in informing much broader classroom discussions around current issues of social divisiveness, ethical decision-making, and corporate social responsibility." - H. Heizmann, University of Technology Sydney

    "Overall, I found this to be a most interesting book. A persuasive case is made for ‘leadership as practice’ as an emerging paradigm for research, theory and practice. The book has a strong theoretical basis and will appeal to academics concerned with the discursive and practice turn in the social sciences, leadership, action learning and action research. It will also be relevant to practitioners who have an interest in the theoretical underpinnings of action learning and research. Although this is not a ‘how to’ text, it gives many practice examples, illustrative of a range of L-A-P concerns. It is certainly a welcome contribution to ways of making sense of leadership and leadership practice which leave heroic and hierarchical perspectives behind and instead foreground it as more emergent, complex and socially constructed human interaction." - Jean Kellie, Hull University Business School, University of Hull

    "From a readership perspective, this book provides an interesting addition to the literature, and I would commend colleagues to add it to their collection. For me, the text is best suited to the postgraduate market and will provide an interesting read for many MBA and other postgraduate programmes with significant leadership content. In addition, strong undergraduate students will also be challenged by many of the ideas, and the book will be a useful addition to the reading list for my honours-level students." - Alan Johnston, York Business School, York St. John University, UK

    "To help close the gap, this book presents a collection of essays on leadership as practice (LAP), a "movement" (as Raelin calls it with an acknowledged wink) that seeks to refocus the camera lens from the foreground of the leader to the previously blurry background of the work context, including the menial, profoundly unsexy, and thankless tasks that the bulk of leaders engage with in the stark reality of Monday morning to Friday afternoon." - Tom Whelan, Director of Corporate Research Training Industry, Inc. Raleigh, NC