From relational to relationist leadership in critical management education: recasting leadership work after the practice turn

Julie Wolfram Cox, John Hassard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


We argue that management educators can harness the critical potential of relational leadership through encouraging attention to the socio-material aspects of leadership work and discourses in organizational settings. We are motivated by persistent critiques of heroic and leader-centered — or leaderist — positions, and informed by arguments for doing leadership and leadership development ‘differently’. We draw on the practice turn in management and organizational studies to introduce socio-material relationism as an epistemology that can inform new critical engagements with relational leadership through management education. Socio-material relationism — in the form of relationist leadership — enables (a) greater consideration of material aspects of practice that may be denied or deferred in more social-relational approaches; and (b) a distinct identity to assist critical analysis of and education on the workings of leadership in contemporary settings. We demonstrate throughout how these contributions have implications for leadership development and teaching. To do so we recast leadership work as everyday managerial work that is developed through routine or emergent practice, done through the working of non-routine practices, and as a subject that is itself worked by being constituted and potentially deconstructed through analysis of intersecting discourses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-556
Number of pages25
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018


  • leadership development
  • management education
  • philosophy of leadership
  • epistemology
  • critical management studies
  • leadership education

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