Collaborative leadership: a processual approach

Linda Buchan, Barbara Simpson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on the performative dynamics of leadership in the collaborative processes that produce transformational change. Our argument, which expresses a pragmatic concern for the social, relational, and material movements of leadership work, is explicitly positioned in terms of a process ontology that privileges actions and flows ahead of structures and things. This processual approach has significant implications for both the theorizing and practising of collaborative leadership. Acknowledging this distinction, we take John Dewey’s process of ‘inquiry’ as our initial guide into the continuities of unfolding action, further elaborating this by engaging the notion of co-orientation as presented in the literature on the communicative constitution of organization (CCO), and further introducing the idea of re-orientation to examine the communicative micro-movements that generate leadership. We illustrate the emergence of collaborative leadership in the communicative dynamics of an unfolding situation at a Scottish Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) that was charged with integrating disparate services across a large geographical area and in a climate of financial austerity, all of which demanded a shift towards a more collaborative approach to leadership.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Critical Companion to Leadership Studies
EditorsDavid Knights, Helena Liu, Owain Smolović-Jones, Suze Wilson
Place of PublicationAbingdon-on-Thames
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-003-36312-5
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2024

Publication series

NameRoutledge Companions in Business and Management


  • leadership
  • collaborative leadership


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