A New Look at Old Leadership Questions
New Horizons in Leadership Studies series
Chapter 3: Why is it so Difficult to Study Leadership?
When something ‘ready-to-hand’ is found missing, though its everyday presence has been so obvious that we have never taken notice of it, this makes a break in those referential contexts which circumspection discovers. Our circumspection comes up against emptiness, and now sees for the first time what the missing article was ready-to-hand with, and what it was ready-to-hand for. The environment announces itself afresh. Martin Heidegger Being and Time (1962, p. 105) In the previous chapter I made the case that one of the reasons for the plethora of leadership theories is that its enactment has as many different expressions as contexts from which it arises. This alone makes it a very difficult phenomenon to study but the problem is exacerbated by its socially constructed nature, implying that leadership is held in the invisible, constructed and cognitive worlds of those who experience it. Rather than being content with its social construction as the primary cause for its elusiveness however, this chapter considers insights phenomenology brings to the difficulties associated with researching it. Why is it that on close examination leadership often seems to ‘disappear’? (Alvesson and Sveningsson 2003). Given this aspect of its nature, how might those aspiring to study leadership do so appropriately? As a starting point, let us consider the ‘disappearing’ nature of leadership a bit more closely. THE CLOSER YOU GET TO IT, THE MORE QUICKLY IT DISAPPEARS Although many researchers have highlighted the difficulties with studying leadership, this chapter focuses on two approaches which draw particular...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.
Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.
Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.