Leadership against management: The magic of leaderships and the logic of management

Noel Connors, Ray Griffin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


In this paper we speculatively argue that the academic discourse of management has failed to fully rationalise, disaggregate and intellectualise leadership. And so, perhaps, there is still a space for enchantment in the shadows of leadership. Through a study of a vibrant amateur Irish sporting organisation- the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), we take a distinctly, inductive interpretivist approach to deconstruct the stories that club leaders tell about their organisational lives. In selecting this organisation, one that stands a little aloof of contemporary managerialism, with its own highly developed auto-didactic approach to organisation; we aspire to identify a site of leadership without too much in the way of management.

What emerges from these fourteen textured stories of organisational and sporting struggle is a set of concerns not well dealt with by management- the deeply held emotions, fantasies and desires of a very committed cadre of organisation makers. Their brand of leadership is distinctive from management for its irrational care for the club, for sharing and growing participation by bringing people in and bringing people along. Indeed, there is little explanatory power from exploring management studies on leadership. This leads us to attempt a broader critique on the treatment of leadership in management studies; where we question the caustic impulse to critique and disassemble leadership into teachable constituent components. In this way, we aspire to contribute to the perpetual academic game of attempting to define leadership by identifying it as an unknowable, dark shadow, where the enlightenment’s modes are ineffective.
Original languageEnglish (Ireland)
Title of host publicationEuropean Group for Organizational Studies Colloquium
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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