The absent follower : identity construction in organizationally assigned leader-follower relations

Schedlitzki, Doris and Edwards, Gareth and Kempster, Stephen John (2018) The absent follower : identity construction in organizationally assigned leader-follower relations. Leadership, 14 (4). pp. 483-503. ISSN 1742-7150

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This article seeks to add to our understanding of processes of identity construction within organizationally assigned leader-follower relations through an exploration of the role of the absent, feminised follower. We situate our work within critical and psychoanalytic contributions to leader/ship and follower/ship and use Lacan’s writings on identification and lack to illuminate the imaginary, failing nature of identity construction. This aims to challenge the social realist foundations of writing on leader-follower constellations in organizational life. We examine our philosophical discussion through a reflective reading of a workplace example and question the possibility of a subject’s identity construction as a follower. If a subject is unable to identify him/herself as follower, he/she cannot validate others as leaders, rendering the leader-follower relationship not only fragile but phantasmic. We highlight implications of our exploration of the absence of follower/ship and endless, unfulfilled desire for leader/ship for future research and practice.

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Journal Article
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The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Leadership, 14 (4), 2018, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2018 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the Leadership page: on SAGE Journals Online:
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? leader-follower relationsidentity constructionidentificationlackunconscious dynamicsstrategy and managementsociology and political sciencediscipline-based research ??
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31 Jan 2017 15:08
Last Modified:
03 May 2024 23:55