Authorising Managers in Management Development?

Morten Knudsen*, Magnus Larsson, Mette Mogensen

*Corresponding author for this work

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This article explores the relationship between management and leadership development and leadership practice. Critical studies of management and leadership development programmes have mainly focused on such programmes as spaces for identity work and/or identity regulation. This article extends the literature by investigating the notion of organisation, the organisational view, in a large management and leadership development programme and how it works as a source of authority for the participating managers. Our inquiry is based on ethnographic studies of both an in-house management and leadership development programme in a large Danish public organisation and of the managerial practice of six participating managers. Drawing on a communicative constitution of organisations perspective, we analyse how the management and leadership development programme (re)produces a unitarist organisational text, an organisational view that assumes the members of the organisation have the same goals and perspectives. We further analyse how this organisational text shapes the authority relationships that managers engage in in their leadership practice. The article demonstrates how the unitarist organisational text fails in authorising participating managers as it clashes with the plurality of perspectives and interests in the organisation and is not recognised as a source of authority by employees and collaborators.
Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Learning
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 15 Sept 2022

Bibliographical note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 15 September 2022.


  • Authorisation
  • Authority
  • Communicative constitution of organisations
  • Critical leadership studies
  • Leadership development
  • Management development
  • Organisational text
  • Polyphonic organisations
  • Relational leadership

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