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Alternative leadership and the pitfalls of hierarchy: When formalization enables power to be tamed

Abstract : Hierarchy is a keybut under-studiedlens for critically exploring leadership. The critical literature suggests that both mainstream and alternative leadership contribute to the perpetuation of hierarchy. In mainstream leadership, even in its most recent forms in allegedly 'flattened' organizations, hierarchy continues to exist and followers often remain disempowered. In alternative leadership, which occurs for instance in non-hierarchical organizations, an unofficial hierarchy tends to persist: even when leadership is rejected, it is enacted in less-formalized forms, resulting in the tyranny of structurelessness and the undermining of horizontal democratic practices. Our research therefore explores whether and how alternative leadership can be practiced in such a way that it avoids the pitfalls of formal or informal hierarchy. We conducted an in-depth case study of a nonhierarchical group of freelancers, combining 140h of participant observation, 15 semi-structured interviews, and documentary analysis. Our research shows that it is possible to practice alternative leadership in a way that avoids the pitfalls of hierarchy and that this happens through the formalization of leadership. Leadership formalization allows power to be tamed by making it visible but it also involves some tensions.
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Contributeur : Guillaume Delalieux Connectez-vous pour contacter le contributeur
Soumis le : mardi 4 octobre 2022 - 16:01:26
Dernière modification le : jeudi 24 novembre 2022 - 11:20:05



Maud Grégoire, Guillaume Delalieux, Pauline Fatien. Alternative leadership and the pitfalls of hierarchy: When formalization enables power to be tamed. Leadership, 2022, ⟨10.1177/17427150221128358⟩. ⟨hal-03797129⟩



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