Leadership-as-Practice: Theory and Application

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Joseph A. Raelin
Routledge, Jan 29, 2016 - Business & Economics - 324 pages
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This book develops a new paradigm in the field of leadership studies, referred to as the "leadership-as-practice" (L-A-P) movement. Its essence is its conception of leadership as occurring as a practice rather than residing in the traits or behaviours of particular individuals. A practice is a coordinative effort among participants who choose through their own rules to achieve a distinctive outcome. It also tends to encompass routines as well as problem-solving or coping skills, often tacit, that are shared by a community. Accordingly, leadership-as-practice is less about what one person thinks or does and more about what people may accomplish together. It is thus concerned with how leadership emerges and unfolds through day-to-day experience. The social and material contingencies impacting the leadership constellation – the people who are effecting leadership at any given time – do not reside outside of leadership but are very much embedded within it. To find leadership, then, we must look to the practice within which it is occurring.

The leadership-as-practice approach resonates with a number of closely related traditions, such as collective, shared, distributed, and relational leadership, that converge on leadership processes. These approaches share a line of inquiry that acknowledges leadership as a social phenomenon. The new focus opens up a plethora of research opportunities encouraging the study of social processes beyond influence, such as intersubjective agency, shared sense-making, dialogue, and co-construction of responsibilities.


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List of illustrations
The philosophical basis of leadershipaspractice from
Feeding the multiple dimensions
A practicebased exploration
Whos leading the way? Investigating the contributions
Wheres the agency in leadershipaspractice?
Developing leadership as dialogic practice
Conversational travel and the identification of leadership
Gendered relationships and the problem of diversity
Methodologies to discover and challenge leadershipas
Doing leadershipaspractice development

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About the author (2016)

Joseph A. Raelin is Professor of Management and Organization Development at Northeastern University, USA.

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