A Discursive Investigation of Leading in Organisational Conversations

Darch, Helen Mary (2014). A Discursive Investigation of Leading in Organisational Conversations. MRes thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000f01a


This exploratory study aimed first to investigate interactions in conversations to see how moments of leadership might arise. This responded to a call to conduct empirical research in an underexplored area of leadership in relational processes where the process rather than the person is the focus of study. It adopted a methodology of organisational discourse analysis, using conversation analysis as a method which has been rarely used to study relational processes to date. A secondary aim was to explore methodologies and methods that might be used in the PhD phase to study relational leadership where this is founded in processes. The study addressed the question: how do interactions in conversation create moments where one person leads, or not, others.

Preliminary results from a study of secondary video data suggest leadership in relational processes, specifically relational dialogue, can be observed in interactions but may be fleeting and incomplete. An additional investigation looked at leadership in three outcomes of direction, alignment and commitment and found these arose in conversations but not necessarily simultaneously. These findings contribute to our understanding of how leadership arises in relational processes by exploring these processes in naturally occurring conversations.

Theoretically this study complements the existing literature with a social constructionist perspective and using a method little used to study leadership in relation. The method and methodology adopted encompassed reflexivity and the role of judgement in how data is handled and interpreted. The trustworthiness, methodological issues, limitations and implications for future research are also discussed.

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