An ILA Leadership Perspectives Webinar

Varieties of Consumption of Leadership – Followership in Practice

Presenter: Stefan Sveningsson

Date: 9 September 2009


It is often suggested that there is no leadership without followership and that there are no leaders without followers. But literature that specifically elaborates on followers and followership in practice is still scanty. The phenomenon of followership is thus less studied in depth in organizations, i.e. we know less about how people look upon, understand, sense and possibly practice followership in relation to people constructed as leaders and related to that, how they contribute to, learn and maintain or perhaps resist and ignore leadership/followership processes in organizational settings. This amounts to investigate in some depth how the relation between leader and follower emerges and forms in terms of the understanding of the follower.

One way of approaching this is to try to investigate how people position themselves as followers in terms of consumption of leadership. This means looking into the varieties of consumption and consumers, some are more active consumers looking for any possibility to consume while other are more restrained and cautious about their consumption. Based on some preliminary findings in a research project investigating followers’ interpretations of the interaction between the follower and the leader the aim is to analyze the significance of this for the leadership processes. By drawing on the idea of consumption the ambition is to show how presumed followers partly create, shape and form as well as undermine, resist and neglect leadership processes.

Speaker Information

Stefan Sveningsson is Associate Professor of Business Administration at the School of Economics and Management, Lund University, Sweden. He has been visiting researcher at Cardiff Business School, Cardiff University, Melbourne University and Auckland Business School, Auckland University. Research interests include identity, leadership, followership, organizational change, and management of knowledge intensive firms. He has published about leadership in several international journals including Human RelationsLeadership QuarterlyOrganization StudiesInternational Studies of Management and Organization and Leadership. Recent books include ManagementOrganizations and Processes (Studentlitteratur, 2007, Ed. with M Alvesson), Changing Organizational Culture (Routledge 2008, with M Alvesson) and Leadership (Liber 2009, forthcoming with M Alvesson).