Shared Leadership: An Exploratory Study taking a Stakeholder Approach in Voluntary Organisations
The aim of this study is to explore the involvement of stakeholders in the functions of leadership within the context of voluntary organisations in the UK. What is intriguing about the study is that business and management research has focused mainly on ‘vertical leadership’ that stems from an appointed or formal leader as opposed to ‘shared leadership’ that is distributed across the organisation. This study therefore, seeks to advance scholarly knowledge on the phenomenon of ‘shared leadership’ focusing on voluntary organisations taking a stakeholder perspective. A review of the current literature focusing on shared leadership indicates that the definition of shared leadership has converged around numerous underlying dimensions. However, the key distinction between shared leadership and other leadership paradigms is that the influence process emanates from different directions rather than the tradition top to down approach. This study attempts to explore the level of shared leadership at the organisational level in the context of voluntary organisations by employing a pragmatic approach to research. The research involved three phases; Phase 1 is qualitative, Phase 2 is quantitative and Phase 3 is qualitative. The research methods have included semi-structured interviews (Phase 1) with 10 participants, a survey (Phase 2) that had 126 respondents and in-depth interviews (Phase 3) involving 30 stakeholders. The findings suggest that the level of shared leadership in voluntary organisations is relatively high. However, the involvement of the stakeholders has been more on a ‘consultative’ level rather than on a ‘participative’ one. Moreover, the status or position of the stakeholder in the organisation is a significant factor in determining the level of shared leadership. It was revealed that some stakeholders are merely involved in low level activities. The findings of this research have implications on the Human Resource Management in terms of stakeholder engagement in the leadership process.
- PhD