KeywordLeadership, Follower/ship, Critical leadership studies, Power, Transformational leadership, Distributed leadership, Servant leadership, Implicit follower theory
Rights© 2016 SAGE. Reproduced in accordance with the publisher's self-archiving policy.
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AbstractThis article introduces a critical approach to follower/ship studies through exploring the unarticulated but highly influential implicit academic theory of follower/ship that informs dominant paradigms of leadership. Research into follower/ship is developing apace but the field lacks a critical account. Such an absence of critical voice renders researchers unaware of the performative effect of their studies, that is, how their studies actively constitute that of which they speak. So, do studies of followers (and leaders, it follows) constitute that very actuality they are studying? Analysis of seminal papers in three major categories of leadership, leader-centric, multiple leadership and leader-centred, shows that leadership theory is underpinned by the desire for power and control over the potentially dangerous masses, now labelled ‘followers’. The etiolated perspective of the people called ‘followers’ undermines leadership theory, and we recommend the wisdom of leaving follower/ship unexplored.
Versionfinal draft paper
CitationFord J and Harding N (2016) Followers in leadership theory: Fiction, fantasy and illusion. Leadership. Published online before print: http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1742715015621372
Link to publisher’s versionhttp://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1742715015621372
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