Leadership in the Plural

    This paper reviews the literature on forms of leadership that in one way or other imply plurality: that is, the combined influence of multiple leaders in specific organizational situations. We identify four streams of scholarship on plural leadership, each focusing on somewhat different phenomena and adopting different epistemological and methodological assumptions. Specifically, these streams focus on sharing leadership in teams, on pooling leadership at the top of organizations, on spreading leadership across boundaries over time, and on producing leadership through interaction. The streams of research vary according to their representations of plural leadership as structured or emergent and as mutual or coalitional. We note tensions between perspectives that advocate pluralizing leadership in settings of concentrated authority and those concerned with channeling the forms of plurality naturally found in diffuse power settings such as professional organizations or inter-organizational partnerships. It is suggested that future research might pay more attention to social network perspectives, to the dynamics of plural leadership, to the role of power, and to critical perspectives on leadership discourse.

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