Critical leadership studies: The case for critical performativity

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Existing accounts of leadership are underpinned by two dominant approaches: functionalist studies, which have tried to identify correlations between variables associated with leadership; and interpretive studies, which have tried to trace out the meaning-making process associated with leadership. Eschewing these approaches, we turn to an emerging strand of literature that develops a critical approach to leadership. This literature draws our attention to the dialectics of control and resistance and the ideological aspect of leadership. However, it largely posits a negative critique of leadership. We think this is legitimate and important, but extend this agenda. We posit a performative critique of leadership that emphasizes tactics of circumspect care, progressive pragmatism and searching for present potentialities. We use these tactics to sketch out a practice of deliberated leadership that involves collective reflection on when, what kind and if leadership is appropriate.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Business Administration


  • performativity, leadership, deliberation, critical management studies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)367-390
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012
Publication categoryResearch