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Only Connect!: Exploring the Critical Dialectical Turn in Leadership Studies

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

E-pub ahead of print
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>27/04/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Organization Theory
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print
Early online date27/04/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article considers the value of critical dialectical perspectives for leadership research. Surfacing under-explored issues about power, paradox and contradiction, critical dialectical approaches challenge the tendency to dichotomize that frequently characterizes leadership studies. They argue that leadership power dynamics typically take multiple, simultaneous forms, interconnecting in ways that are often mutually reinforcing but sometimes in tension. Revealing the importance, for example, of gender, embodiment and other intersecting diversities and inequalities, these perspectives also highlight how power can be productive as well as oppressive, covert as well as overt. Careful to avoid treating leaders’ control and influence as all-determining and monolithic, they also recognise that different forms of power and control may produce unintended and unanticipated effects such as follower resistance. Critical approaches hold that followers’ practices are frequently more proactive, knowledgeable and oppositional than is often appreciated. By addressing the dialectics of power, conformity and resistance as a set of dynamic, shifting and inter-connected processes, the article concludes that critical dialectical perspectives have the potential to open-up new ways of understanding and researching leadership and followership.

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