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Warning for excessive positivity : Authentic leadership and other traps in leadership studies

Alvesson, Mats LU and Einola, Katja LU (2019) In Leadership Quarterly 30(4). p.383-395
Abstract

We study authentic leadership as a prominent but problematic example of positive leadership that we use as a more general “warning” against the current fashion of excessive positivity in leadership studies. Without trying to cover “everything”, we critically examine the principal tenets of mainstream authentic leadership theory and reveal a number of fundamental flaws: shaky philosophical and theoretical foundations, tautological reasoning, weak empirical studies, nonsensical measurement tools, unsupported knowledge claims and a generally simplistic and out of date view of corporate life. Even though our study focuses on authentic leadership, much of our criticism is also applicable to other popular positive leadership theories, such as... (More)

We study authentic leadership as a prominent but problematic example of positive leadership that we use as a more general “warning” against the current fashion of excessive positivity in leadership studies. Without trying to cover “everything”, we critically examine the principal tenets of mainstream authentic leadership theory and reveal a number of fundamental flaws: shaky philosophical and theoretical foundations, tautological reasoning, weak empirical studies, nonsensical measurement tools, unsupported knowledge claims and a generally simplistic and out of date view of corporate life. Even though our study focuses on authentic leadership, much of our criticism is also applicable to other popular positive leadership theories, such as transformational, servant, ethical and spiritual leadership.

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author
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organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Leadership Quarterly
volume
30
issue
4
pages
383 - 395
publisher
Elsevier
external identifiers
  • scopus:85064743574
ISSN
1048-9843
DOI
10.1016/j.leaqua.2019.04.001
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
191c7f2d-72e8-4266-bd89-127d0c2a7fd0
date added to LUP
2019-05-07 12:11:41
date last changed
2020-10-07 06:27:06
@article{191c7f2d-72e8-4266-bd89-127d0c2a7fd0,
  abstract     = {<p>We study authentic leadership as a prominent but problematic example of positive leadership that we use as a more general “warning” against the current fashion of excessive positivity in leadership studies. Without trying to cover “everything”, we critically examine the principal tenets of mainstream authentic leadership theory and reveal a number of fundamental flaws: shaky philosophical and theoretical foundations, tautological reasoning, weak empirical studies, nonsensical measurement tools, unsupported knowledge claims and a generally simplistic and out of date view of corporate life. Even though our study focuses on authentic leadership, much of our criticism is also applicable to other popular positive leadership theories, such as transformational, servant, ethical and spiritual leadership.</p>},
  author       = {Alvesson, Mats and Einola, Katja},
  issn         = {1048-9843},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {383--395},
  publisher    = {Elsevier},
  series       = {Leadership Quarterly},
  title        = {Warning for excessive positivity : Authentic leadership and other traps in leadership studies},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2019.04.001},
  doi          = {10.1016/j.leaqua.2019.04.001},
  volume       = {30},
  year         = {2019},
}