Journal Article

Developing and spreading leadership across levels: The facilitating and constraining role of context


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.

Attached files


Ciuk, Sylwia
Schedlitzki, Doris

Oxford Brookes departments

Department of Business and Management


Year of publication: 2021
Date of RADAR deposit: 2021-01-25

“Reuse is restricted to non-commercial and no derivative uses. Users may also download and save a local copy of an article accessed in an institutional repository for the user's personal reference.”

Related resources

This RADAR resource is the Accepted Manuscript of Developing and spreading leadership across levels: The facilitating and constraining role of context


  • Owner: Joseph Ripp
  • Collection: Outputs
  • Version: 1 (show all)
  • Status: Live
  • Views (since Sept 2022): 460