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Title: A psychodynamic perspective on the implementation of shared leaderships
Author: Fitzsimons, Declan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 3965
Awarding Body: Cranfield University
Current Institution: Cranfield University
Date of Award: 2013
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A key debate within leadership research is whether leadership can be conceptualized as a specialized role occupied by individuals or as a shared influence process amongst all members of a group (Yukl, 2006). Since the mid-­‐ 1990s some leadership scholars, as a counterpoint to the dominance of the former and using terms such as shared and distributed leadership, have attempted to elaborate new ‘post-­‐heroic’ leadership models (Badaracco, 2001) of the latter, in which leadership is something that involves all group members. These new forms of leadership are often positioned as something that organizations can implement as part of an adaptive response to a rapidly changing world. Despite a 50-­‐year tradition of construing leadership as a group level construct, little attention has been paid in these emerging debates to the systems psychodynamic perspective. From this perspective there are grounds for suspecting that attempts to implement shared leadership may compound rather than ameliorate issues related to adaptive challenges (Huffington, James and Armstrong, 2004). This thesis engages with the shared and distributed leadership literatures and examines how a systems psychodynamic perspective can contribute not only to debates within these literatures but to the wider controversies in the leadership literature. This thesis reports on the findings of a single, 18-­‐month, longitudinal case study of a senior team whose managing director attempted to implement shared leadership. Using a clinical fieldwork methodology (Schein, 1987) in the systems psychodynamic tradition (Miller, 1993b; Miller and Rice, 1967), this study advances a number of contributions to theory. These include: findings that challenge existing approaches to conceptualizing leadership – shared or otherwise; the elucidation of complex unconscious team processes that are mobilized as a senior team undertakes adaptive work; and thirdly, a more sophisticated and theoretically robust conceptualization of leadership as a group level phenomenon.
Supervisor: Turnbull James, Kim Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: shared leadership ; distributed leadership ; systems psychodynamics