Collective dimensions of leadership: The challenges of connecting theory and method

S.M Ospina, E.G. Foldy, J.T. Fairhurst and B. Jackson
Human Relations Special Issue

In this introductory article we explain the impetus for creating the Special Issue, along with its goals and the process by which we created it. We present a map of the terrain of collective leadership (CL) that builds on earlier frameworks, recognizing that the terrain is expanding and has become increasingly difficult to traverse. The map is comprised of two axes or dimensions. The first axis, the ‘locus of leadership,’ captures how scholars conceptualize where to look for manifestations of leadership. That is, does the leadership reside in the group or does it reside in the system? The second axis is the view of ‘collectivity’ that plots how scholars conceptualize the collective. Do they see it as an empirical type of leadership or a theoretical lens through which to study leadership? We then plot distinctive CL research into four cells, providing definitions and references to empirical work emblematic for each cell. In introducing and summarizing each of the five articles we have selected for this Special Issue, we show where each of these is located on the CL research map, and distil how each provides a clear connection between theory and method in a way that advances our understanding of CL.