Leadership Studies
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Leadership Studies

The Dialogue of Disciplines

Edited by Michael Harvey and Ronald E. Riggio

This unique, cross-disciplinary volume encourages a new synthesis in the vibrant field of leadership studies. Comprising reflective conversations among scholars from different disciplines, the contributors explore common ground for new research and ideas.
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Chapter 2: Is Leadership Studies a Discipline?

Ronald E. Riggio


Ronald E. Riggio With the understanding and acknowledgement that what I say in this chapter is controversial, I will argue that leadership studies is a distinct discipline, albeit a discipline that is “emerging”. I have every expectation that a generation from now leadership studies will be a recognized discipline and universities that do not have departments of leadership studies (or at least programs devoted to leadership) will be in the minority. I will begin with a discussion of what constitutes an academic discipline and then review the evidence that leadership studies is currently an emerging discipline, on the verge of becoming recognized as a “stand-alone” discipline in the next several decades. I will also address the topic of this book, namely the multidisciplinary nature of leadership studies as it currently exists. Finally, I will make recommendations for faculty involved in academic leadership studies programs (or academics who are in the area of leadership studies) to hasten the process of disciplinary recognition. First, let me state that there are some of us who firmly believe that leadership studies has already arrived as a distinct discipline, but there are scholars who devote their research partially or entirely to the study of leadership who vehemently disagree that leadership studies is, or will ever become, a discipline. The argument against usually revolves around the notion that leadership is a topic of study and not a “discipline”, or the scholar intends to hold firmly to his or her traditional discipline, as in “I am a...

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