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Discourse on Leadership
A Critical Appraisal


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  • Date Published: May 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107628137

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About the Authors
  • In a wide-ranging and provocative new study, Bert A. Spector provides a critical analysis of past and present theories of leadership. Spector asserts that our perception of leadership influences who we vote for, who we hire and promote, and ultimately, who we choose to grant our authority to. Focusing on leadership in discourse, the book sets out to explore how the notion of leadership has been articulated, studied and debated by academics, but also by practitioners, journalists, and others who seek to influence the thoughts of others. Paying particular attention to the social, economic, political, intellectual and historical forces that have helped shape the discussion, Discourse on Leadership offers an insightful historiography of leadership as a concept and considers how our understanding of it continues to evolve.

    • Offers an insightful historiography of leadership as a concept and considers how our understanding of it continues to evolve
    • Provides a critical analysis of past and present theories of leadership
    • Considers the social, economic, political, intellectual and historical forces that have helped shape discourse on leadership
    Read more


    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Profoundly demonstrative of an intellectual history of ideas, the text has order and a strong sense of chronology and provides readers a glimpse into the mind of the historian and his art form. … This reviewer's sense of this presentation is that it is refreshing and fits well with the author's discourse objective. The Spector text will certainly be an essential addition to any academic library and may well be a great addition for serious students of leadership. A job well done!' J. B. Kashner, CHOICE

    'Writing in a lovely prose that is rare among academics, Spector reaches all the way back to Chaucer in his survey of the ongoing dialogue about the paucity of both women and racial outsiders in the C-suite. In another chapter, he traces with perception and wit the evolution of the discourse from management to general management, then on to leadership and, then, to transformation.' David Carl Wilson, Philosophy of Management

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107628137
    • length: 322 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 20 mm
    • weight: 0.52kg
    • contains: 3 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Prologue: a discussion without end, and the nature of this inquiry
    1. The great man and the beginning of contemporary discourse
    2. More who than do and the trait vs behavior debate
    3. Whistling in the dark and the insertion of power between followers and leaders
    4. The sublime myth and the ideology of purpose
    5. (White) men named John and the persistence of bias
    6. No longer just managing and the misuse of ideal types
    7. Globalization and the challenge of complexity
    Epilogue: key moments in leadership discourse and a plausible chronological narrative

  • Author

    Bert A. Spector, Northeastern University, Boston
    Bert A. Spector (Ph.D., American History) is Associate Professor of International Business and Management at Northeastern University's D'Amore-McKim School of Business. His research interests include organizational change, leadership, business model innovation and management history. His articles have appeared in Leadership, Management and Organizational History and the Harvard Business Review. He is the author/co-author of seven previous books, including The Critical Path to Corporate Renewal (1990), which received the Johnson, Smith and Knisely Award for New Perspectives on Executive Leadership. He has been a visiting professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management and INSEAD.


    • Winner, 2017 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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