Leadership in Spaces and Places

Leadership in Spaces and Places

Edited by Arja Ropo, Perttu Salovaara, Erika Sauer and Donatella De Paoli

By combining new research on leadership and workspaces, Leadership in Spaces and Places argues for a radical reconceptualization of leadership. They argue leadership is not only about leaders themselves, but is also affected by the built environment. With contributions from both scholars and practitioners alike, the authors discuss leadership in six different contexts: • workspaces in change • open-office spaces • virtual workspaces • service spaces • cultural spaces • institutional spaces.

Chapter 5: Virtual organizations: a call for new leadership

Donatella De Paoli

Subjects: business and management, business leadership, organisation studies, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter is about a relatively new kind of workspace: the virtual space. Coming from an organizational aesthetics and leadership perspective, I give an extensive review of general research about virtual leadership, questioning whether current researchers and practitioners are too pessimistic about leadership in virtual space. Inspired by an interview with a young entrepreneur, running a company with several employees from long distance, it is argued that there is a call for a new leadership. I develop a map of a new leadership landscape and approach, based on the nature of technological networks favouring a more distributed, transparent, flexible, involving and democratic leadership approach. Several new leadership theories are described such as relational leadership, plural leadership, aesthetic and embodied leadership, making a claim that the traditional leader-centric and centralized approach is no longer so relevant for leadership in virtual space. Finally, it is argued that physical places and spaces are also important for virtual leadership, but in other ways than previously.

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