Leadership development programmes increasingly encourage plural forms of leadership to counteract the pitfalls of individualistic approaches. This paper contributes to our understanding of the role of context in developing and spreading leadership across hierarchies. Working within an omnibus approach to context, previous research has highlighted the role of institutional forces in the emergence of distributed leadership in the public sector, yet so far neglected the influence of the discrete organisational context. Drawing on an in-depth case study of a private sector organisation trying to recover from a turbulent past through an in-house leadership development initiative, we show how the omnibus and discrete organisational contexts jointly facilitate and constrain the development and spread of leadership and how they are instrumentalised in this process. We surface how social and political dynamics associated with socio-material relationships and institutional arrangements, together with wider omnibus forces, influence the aim of an inhouse LDP and its potential to impact perceptions and practice of distributed leadership in organisational settings. We argue that a nested approach to context – encompassing the interconnected omnibus and discrete contexts – is required for a deeper understanding of the factors that facilitate and constrain the development and spread of leadership.
Department of Business and Management
Year of publication: 2021Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-01-25
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