Your browser has javascript turned off or blocked. This will lead to some parts of our website to not work properly or at all. Turn on javascript for best performance.

The browser you are using is not supported by this website. All versions of Internet Explorer are no longer supported, either by us or Microsoft (read more here: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365/windows/end-of-ie-support).

Please use a modern browser to fully experience our website, such as the newest versions of Edge, Chrome, Firefox or Safari etc.

Alvehus

Johan Alvehus

Senior lecturer

Alvehus

Docility, obedience and discipline: Towards dirtier leadership studies

Author

  • Johan Alvehus

Summary, in English

Leadership is a popular term, among scholars and in general. It is romanticized and seems to cover everything and nothing. Its analytical value has therefore been questioned, and so has the very existence of leadership as a phenomenon. Here, based on the social psychology of GH Mead, I argue that leadership is a fundamental human phenomenon emanating from docility. By exploring this through the lens of three classic texts – Milgram’s Obedience to Authority, Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and Taylor’s The Principles of Scientific Management – I argue that processes that accomplish leadership are often not understood as leadership, but as something else, for example manipulation or management. More generally, I argue that leadership disappears as we identify the details of its manifestations, and from this I argue that leadership is a concept that denies its own ontological foundation. My conclusions suggest that leadership scholars and practitioners increasingly should draw attention to the choices involved in leadership processes and to practices commonly seen as not being about leadership – leadership studies will benefit from making the immaculate concept of leadership dirtier.

Department/s

  • Department of Service Management and Service Studies

Publishing year

2021-01-14

Language

English

Pages

120-132

Publication/Series

Journal of Change Management

Volume

21

Issue

1

Document type

Journal article

Publisher

Routledge

Topic

  • Business Administration

Keywords

  • discipline
  • docility
  • empty signifier
  • interaction
  • leadership
  • obedience

Status

Published

ISBN/ISSN/Other

  • ISSN: 1479-1811