A research seminar with Mats Alvesson
This seminar discusses the current self-confidence and apparent success – at least by market/popularity measures – of leadership studies against the widely spread sense of failure in the 1980’s. Superficially, popular concepts like transformational, charismatic and authentic leadership saved the field from its miseries. This may appear as theoretical progress. An alternative interpretation is offered, suggesting that it is the ideological and seductive powers of these approaches that account for their ’success’. Their wide appeal needs to be understood amidst the desperation in the field before the entrance of these much more popularly appealing, but theoretically questionable ideas which lack empirical support. The seminar concludes that the currently popular streams score higher on ideology than rigour – drawing upon hero and religious mythologies – and that future work need to find ways to reduce the ideological overtone and the resulting tendency to produce tautologies and biased
Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Lund, Sweden, and University of Queensland Business School, Australia. His research interests include critical theory, gender, power, professional services firms, organizational culture, leadership, identity, organizational image, qualitative methods and philosophy of science. Recent books include Understanding Gender and Organizations (Sage, 2009, with Y. Billing), Reflexive Methodology (Sage, 2009, with K. Sköldberg), Knowledge Work and Knowledge-Intensive Firms (Oxford University Press, 2004), Changing Organizational Culture (Routledge, 2008, with S. Sveningsson), Interpreting Interviews (Sage, 2010) and Understanding Leadership in the Real World. Metaphors We Lead By (Routledge, 2010, edited with A. Spicer). Address: Department of Business Administration, University of Lund, Sweden.