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Good visions, bad micro-management and ugly ambiguity: Contradictions of (non-)leadership in a knowledge-intensive organization

Alvesson, Mats LU and Sveningsson, Stefan LU (2003) In Organization Studies 24(6). p.961-988
Abstract
This article investigates how managers position themselves and their work in terms of leadership in a large knowledge-intensive company. The significance of contemporary discourse on leadership, practical aspects of managerial work, and ambiguity as a central dimension of organization and leadership (particularly in knowledge-intensive settings) are highlighted. We examine the presumed leadership in a company with respect to the three 'moral' and 'aesthetic' positions or aspects of leadership: good, bad and ugly leadership. The article shows how managers incoherently move between different positions on leadership. The study undermines some of the dominant notions of leadership, for example, the leader as a consistent essence, a centred... (More)
This article investigates how managers position themselves and their work in terms of leadership in a large knowledge-intensive company. The significance of contemporary discourse on leadership, practical aspects of managerial work, and ambiguity as a central dimension of organization and leadership (particularly in knowledge-intensive settings) are highlighted. We examine the presumed leadership in a company with respect to the three 'moral' and 'aesthetic' positions or aspects of leadership: good, bad and ugly leadership. The article shows how managers incoherently move between different positions on leadership. The study undermines some of the dominant notions of leadership, for example, the leader as a consistent essence, a centred subject with a particular orientation to work. We suggest a less comfortable view of managers aspiring to adopt, but partly failing to secure leadership identities and a coherent view of their work. Value commitments appear as disintegrated and contradictory. The study indicates a need to radically rethink dominant ideas about leadership. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
keywords
leadership, management, ambiguity, identity work, knowledge-intensive firms
in
Organization Studies
volume
24
issue
6
pages
961 - 988
publisher
SAGE Publications Inc.
external identifiers
  • wos:000184254800007
  • scopus:0013312675
ISSN
1741-3044
DOI
10.1177/0170840603024006007
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
fb7734f0-95bb-471d-9138-ea3478724b62 (old id 900103)
date added to LUP
2008-01-10 08:32:27
date last changed
2018-01-07 05:28:07
@article{fb7734f0-95bb-471d-9138-ea3478724b62,
  abstract     = {This article investigates how managers position themselves and their work in terms of leadership in a large knowledge-intensive company. The significance of contemporary discourse on leadership, practical aspects of managerial work, and ambiguity as a central dimension of organization and leadership (particularly in knowledge-intensive settings) are highlighted. We examine the presumed leadership in a company with respect to the three 'moral' and 'aesthetic' positions or aspects of leadership: good, bad and ugly leadership. The article shows how managers incoherently move between different positions on leadership. The study undermines some of the dominant notions of leadership, for example, the leader as a consistent essence, a centred subject with a particular orientation to work. We suggest a less comfortable view of managers aspiring to adopt, but partly failing to secure leadership identities and a coherent view of their work. Value commitments appear as disintegrated and contradictory. The study indicates a need to radically rethink dominant ideas about leadership.},
  author       = {Alvesson, Mats and Sveningsson, Stefan},
  issn         = {1741-3044},
  keyword      = {leadership,management,ambiguity,identity work,knowledge-intensive firms},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {6},
  pages        = {961--988},
  publisher    = {SAGE Publications Inc.},
  series       = {Organization Studies},
  title        = {Good visions, bad micro-management and ugly ambiguity: Contradictions of (non-)leadership in a knowledge-intensive organization},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0170840603024006007},
  volume       = {24},
  year         = {2003},
}