Shared Leadership in Commercial Organizations: A Systematic Review of Definitions, Theoretical Frameworks and Organizational Outcomes

Anne Sweeney, Nicholas Clarke, Malcolm Higgs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The importance of context has been well established in studies of leadership (Bryman, A. and Stephens, M. (1996). The importance of context: qualitative research and the study of leadership. Leadership Quarterly, 7, pp. 353–371; Pettigrew, A. and Whipp, R. (1991). Managing Change for Competitive Success. Oxford: Blackwell). However, recent reviews of shared leadership have tended to merge findings across commercial and non-commercial settings, disregarding contextual differences in these distinctive domains. Acknowledging that the challenges of leadership may vary in different organizational contexts, this paper argues that a focused review of shared leadership in commercial organizations (COs) is needed. The authors thus systematically review findings from over twenty years of empirical research on the practice of shared leadership in commercial organizations, critically reviewing definitions, theoretical dispositions and measurement approaches adopted in the field, before evaluating the impact of shared leadership on performance in this context. Findings from commercial and non- commercial organizations are then compared, highlighting significant differences in the conceptualization of shared leadership in these distinct settings. Contributing to theory in this field, a framework is developed, mapping the landscape of current research in commercial contexts, revealing critical gaps in our present understanding of shared leadership processes. Consequently, a model summarizing a proposed research agenda for future studies is provided, highlighting the need for such research to focus on the interactions of individuals as they share in the leadership of their team.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-136
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Management Reviews
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019

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