‘Contestation, negotiation, and resolution’: The relationship between power and collective leadership

Erica Gabrielle Foldy, Sonia M. Ospina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The relationship between power and collective leadership (CL) has been theoretically understood and empirically addressed in many different ways. To make sense of this diversity, we investigate and diagram the role of power in CL. First, we identify six representations of power—six ways in which scholars have found that power shapes the emergence and enactment of CL. These representations include: Even in CL, individual power matters; Leaders can devolve power to their subordinates by empowering them; Contextual characteristics related to power can influence the possibility and enactment of CL; CL can create the collective power necessary for people in marginalized positions to challenge embedded power dynamics; Power is intrinsic to the co-construction process; Attributions affect who can enact CL, how they are viewed, and whether they have power. Second, we offer a conceptual framework that provides a comprehensive way to understand the relationship between power and CL. The framework includes two dimensions, one related to power (that runs from episodic to systemic) and the other related to CL (that runs from entitative to emergent). Third, we create a conceptual map by placing the six representations within this framework. Based on our research, we make the case that we cannot understand CL without understanding the ubiquitous, complex, and even contradictory role of power. We also suggest avenues for expanding and elaborating discussions of power in the CL literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)546-563
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Decision Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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