Collective dimensions of leadership: Connecting theory and method

Sonia M. Ospina, Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Gail T. Fairhurst, Brad Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)441-463
Number of pages23
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Collective leadership
  • distributed leadership
  • leadership research methods
  • plural leadership
  • relational leadership
  • shared leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


Dive into the research topics of 'Collective dimensions of leadership: Connecting theory and method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this