The Concept of Ideology in Leadership Studies: A Critical Review

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We perform a meta-interpretive review of 70 articles in top leadership journals to explore how leadership researchers have defined and theorized the connections between ideology and leadership—as well as between ideology and leadership research. Our results indicate a sharp divide in approaches to ideology between mainstream and critical perspectives. The dominant mainstream approach defines ideology as an individual leadership style, thereby divorcing the concept it from its traditional connections to power, collective consciousness, and hegemony. By contrast, critical research employs the concept to highlight the centrality of power relations in leadership theory and practice, and to critique mainstream leadership studies themselves as ideological. We conclude that these very different approaches to ideology lie close to the core of what distinguishes mainstream and critical leadership research from one another, and that leadership scholars on both sides of this divide need to define and theorize the concept of ideology explicitly and thoroughly when they address it in their work.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2022
Number of pages33
Publication statusPublished - 2022
EventThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022: Creating a Better World Together - Seattle, United States
Duration: 5 Aug 20229 Aug 2022
Conference number: 82


ConferenceThe Academy of Management Annual Meeting 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address

Bibliographical note

Also presented at The 20th International Studying Leadership Conference: Leadership and the Future of Humanity. Brighton, Great Britain, 11-13 December 2022.

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