Towards a Negative Ontology of Leadership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Citations (Scopus)


Drawing on recent critical debates concerning the ontology of leadership, this article outlines a radical rethinking of the concept – not as the study of heroic individuals, skilled practitioners, collaborators, or discursive actors – but as the marker of a fundamental and productive lack; a space of absent presence through which individual and collective desires for leadership are given expression. Where current critical debates tend to oscillate between variants of the physical and the social in their analyses, this article considers the potential for a negative ontology of leadership; one in which absence, ideological practices, and the operation of empty signifiers form the basis for empirical investigation and critical reflection.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)905-922
Number of pages18
JournalHuman Relations
Issue number8
Early online date29 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes


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