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Critical leadership studies: a response to Learmonth and Morrell

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/07/2017
<mark>Journal</mark>Leadership
Issue number3
Volume13
Number of pages13
Pages (from-to)272-284
Publication statusPublished
Early online date7/03/17
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article re-states the value of a dialectical approach to critical leadership studies: one that explicitly uses the ‘language of leadership’ to examine and illuminate workplace power and identity dynamics. Outlining an alternative view of what it means to be ‘critical’, this response questions the dichotomizing tendency in Learmonth and Morrell’s arguments and highlights their misrepresentation and misinterpretation of my 2014 article. Learmonth and Morrell’s article shifts in different places between Marxist structuralism and mainstream voluntarism. Their proposal to replace the language of leadership with a Marxist binary of manager and worker all but precludes the possibility of a critical approach to leadership studies, and leaves little, if any, conceptual space for the study of leadership whatsoever. They also suggest that critical studies of leadership are not critical enough. Yet, paradoxically, their objections draw on conventional, voluntaristic and uncritical conceptions of both leaders and followers. Rather than reproduce and reinforce further
dichotomies, future critical work on leadership would be better served, in my view, exploring the dialectical asymmetries, situated interrelations and intersecting practices of leaders and followers and managers and workers in all their ambiguous, paradoxical and contradictory forms.

Bibliographic note

The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Leadership,13 (3), 2017, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2017 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Leadership page: http://journals.sagepub.com/home/LEA on SAGE Journals Online: http://journals.sagepub.com/