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2010/2011  KAN-SOL_OS44  De- and Reconstructing Leadership

English Title
De- and Reconstructing Leadership

Course Information

Language English
Point 7,5 ECTS (225 SAT)
Type Mandatory
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course Period Spring
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Study Board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course Coordinator
Eva Boxenbaum
Main Category of the Course
  • Organization
Last updated on 29 maj 2012
Marking Scale 7-step scale
Exam Period May/June
Individual project (scientific paper) (max. 10 A4 pages). The exam is internal and the project will be graded by a teacher, cf. the General Degree regulation § 25 S. (1) no.1. The regular exam and the deadline for submitting the project will be in June 2011. The make-up/re-exam takes place in August 2011 The deadline for handing in a new project will be announced by the secretariat. The theme of the re-exam will be different from the theme of the ordinary exam
A 10-page individual paper. The paper applies selected aspects of the theoretical curriculum to analyze how a leader of the student’s own choice motivates (or fails to motivate) followers through a certain self-presentation. The method is a discourse analysis of a self-selected text by the leader (a speech, biography, interview, etc.).
The theme of the re-exam will be different from the theme of the ordinary exam.
Prerequisites for Attending the Exam
Course Content

Aim of the course
The course enables students to both de- and re-construct leader-follower relations. They learn to deconstruct leadership discourse and to identify the archetypes and templates behind leadership expectations (of which organizational actors may be unaware). Re-construction takes place as students learn to craft alternative leadership discourses and extend their own repertoire of leadership relations.

The following abilities constitute the specific learning goals of the course:
Understand the relational and contextual aspects of leadership
Critically assess different theories and their relationship to one another
Apply theoretical concepts thoughtfully in the conduct of discourse analysis
Formulate and structure their analysis in good academic language
Identify how specific leaders mobilize followers in a given context
Deconstruct how mobilization is accomplished discursively
Reconstruct alternative mobilization discourses for a specific leader
Increase their own margin of self-representation within personal boundaries

The course introduces students to contemporary leadership theory, which views leadership as a relationship involving a leader, followers and a context. The focus is on how leaders mobilize followers within a particular social and organizational context. This mobilization is constructed through an (inter-)action that takes place primarily through language and discourse.

The course spans from the analysis of leaders’ motivation of followers in discourse to the establishing of effective and sustainable expressions of leadership. Students are encouraged to identify and expand their own approaches to leadership and to identify the ways of motivating followers that they find ethically acceptable.

The triad “leader-followers-context” is approached from three perspectives:
Firstly, we take as our point of departure the participants’ own experience of leadership interaction and deconstruct our understanding of these relationships. We identify the metaphors involved in our understanding of a given situation and analyse the archetypes and psychological dynamics that influence our interpretations.

Secondly, we analyse the self-presentation of a series of successful top leaders generally considered to be charismatic. We study how leaders employ discourse and narrative to establish or strengthen this relationship. Students learn to apply narratological tools and discourse analysis to texts written by and about top leaders. We study how leaders (attempt to) motivate followers by establishing a particular self-representation and we identify what, in specific contexts, makes certain strategies more successful and convincing than others. The spiritual attributes of the concept of charisma are investigated, as is the influence of templates of heroic leadership from folklore and popular culture. Aspects such as legitimacy, profitability and the ethics of motivating others are also covered, and we touch on issues of gender and culture.

The third, re-constructive, part of the course draws on the insight gained from the preceding process of deconstruction. We use this insight to work on expanding the participants’ margins for manoeuvring within the leader-follower relationship. Through action-oriented cases and workshops that include role-play and articulation, students become more aware of their own implicit leadership expectations and approaches. They are presented with alternative options and are encouraged to identify those approaches that they find personally appropriate or ethically defendable.

Leadership history

Leadership development

Leadership and teams

Leadership of stars

Leadership in middle management

Leadership and social legitimacy

Leadership and culture

Leadership ethics

Leadership styles

Leadership of stakeholders

Hand-in individual project

Overlap with Management of Meaning
The course De- and Reconstructing Leadership extends the theoretical orientation of Management of Meaning to the study of leadership. Students learn precise theoretical concepts and analytical tools that they then use to analyze contemporary leaders through texts and experiences. In turn, they can apply these analytical skills to the empirical project that they conduct in Management of Meaning


Casimir, G., Waldman, D. A., Bartram, T., & Yang, S. 2006. “Trust and the Relationship Between Leadership and Follower Performance: Opening the Black Box in Australia and China.” Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies 12(3): 68-84.
Fanelli, A. & Grasselli, N. I. 2005. “Defeating the Minotaur: The Construction of CEO Charisma on the US Stock Market”. Organization Studies 27(6): 811-832.
Jackson, B. G. 1999. “The Goose that Laid the Golder Egg?: A Rhetorical Critique of Stephen Covey and the Effectiveness Movement’. Journal of Management Studies 36(3): 353-377.
Khurana, R. 2002. “The Curse of the Superstar CEO”. Harvard Business Review 80(9): 60-66.
Steyrer, J. 1998. “Charisma and the Archetypes of Leadership”. Organization Studies 19(5): 807-828.
Waldman, D. A., Ramirez, G. G., House, R. J., & Puranam, P. 2001. “Does leadership matter? CEO leadership attributes and profitability under conditions of perceived environmental uncertainty.” Academy of Management Journal 44(1): 134-143.