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Leadership as the Hybrid Production of Presence(s)

by G. T. Fairhurst, F. Cooren
Leadership ()

Abstract

Leadership scholars and lay actors often attribute a certain presence to great leaders in describing a commanding style or a charismatic personality. However, leadership presence and its mirror concept, absence, have been difficult concepts for researchers to study. This article proposes to redress this short coming using actor-network theory (ANT). In ANT, the focus is on human and nonhuman agents, their hybrid forms, networked socialaction, and macro acting, the latter of which enables leaders or followers to speak on behalf of their organizations. Together with ANT's emphasis on the role of narrative, this approach directs analysts to the situated construction of actor networks in which leadership presence or absence is attributed. An emphasis on discourse also shows how various actants are imbued with meaning, enabling analysts to unravel networks andflows of power associated with leadership presence/absence. Leadership discourses involving charismatic/transformational leadership are considered as well as the disaster management networking associated with two US Governors, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Kathleen Blanco, for their respective handling of the California wildfires and hurricane Katrina.

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