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Title: An exploratory study of shared leadership interactions in organisational teams
Author: Sweeney, Anne
ISNI:       0000 0004 7960 6995
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This research explores recent conceptions of leadership as a shared, reciprocal influence process. Contrary to traditional leader-centric approaches, such views suggest that leadership is performed collectively, particularly in team-based organisations. However, our understanding of how such approaches are put into practice is lacking, especially in the commercial domain. To bridge this gap, this study provides an in-depth, qualitative exploration of the interactions of team members in organisational settings, as they share in the leadership of their team. This was facilitated by the application of Social Exchange Theory as a theoretical foundation for the study, which enabled the research to focus on the mechanism through which shared leadership (SL) happens, i.e. social exchanges. The empirical insights presented have been gained through multiple case studies in professional organisations, involving semi-structured interviews and participant diaries. This fieldwork enabled the development of a framework depicting the exchange behaviours of those engaging in SL within their teams, providing a unique insight into the underlying dynamics of the SL process itself. Overall, the study provides strong support for the notion that leadership can be shared by multiple individuals, as SL emerged in all contexts studied. Significantly however, the pattern of SL was not the same in all contexts, and four distinct forms of SL are identified, including the specialisation in leadership behaviours, the rotation of leadership responsibilities, the simultaneous enactment of leadership and the centralisation of leadership activities. Contributing to an understanding of what is shared, the study reveals that SL permits a wide variety of leadership behaviours to be expressed. Key theoretical contributions include the framework of SL interactions (Fig. 7.6), illustrating how individuals make choices with regard to sharing in the leadership of their team; and the identification of different patterns of SL emerging from specific contextual and relational conditions. Practical contributions are derived from the identification of leadership behaviours that are amenable to sharing, providing an insight into how SL could be employed to increase the leadership capacity in team-based organisational settings.
Supervisor: Higgs, Malcolm Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available