Exploring relational connections and the emergence of shared leadership in experiential agencies

ABSON, Emma (2020). Exploring relational connections and the emergence of shared leadership in experiential agencies. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

Abson_2020_PhD_ExploringRelationalConnections.pdf - Accepted Version
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Link to published version:: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00308


This exploratory and cross-sectional study focussed on the specific setting of experiential event agencies and explored leadership through the lens of the ‘post-heroic’ leadership theories, in particular the theory of shared leadership. Adopting a social constructionist perspective, the investigation took the form of a collective case study, using a constructionist grounded theory approach to guide the data collection, analysis and theory development. The research explores the way in which leadership is shared among team members within three experiential event agencies. Despite the growing body of research which indicates that shared leadership has a positive effect on team performance and team effectiveness, there has yet to have been any research that explores the conditions which enable shared leadership to be practiced in the context of cross functional, interdependent, project based teams such as those found in experiential agencies. This, coupled with the lack of empirical research around the form and function of the leadership within the event industry, forms the background to this research. This thesis addresses these gaps in knowledge by identifying which conditions of work enable shared leadership to become a useful process in project based event organisations. The study therefore responds to the following overarching question: ‘How is leadership shared in an experiential agency?’ The analysis of the data collected from the three case studies resulted in the emergence of a new theory of relational connections and the emergence of shared leadership. The theory suggests that shared leadership develops through relational connections within organisations, and demonstrates that the relationships between individuals within these organisations are the cornerstone of effective participation in shared leadership. This research is the first to closely examine the nature of workplace 5 relationships in the context of shared leadership and, in particular, it has illuminated how these connections are constructed through a sense of belonging in the workplace and trust between team members. The developed theory therefore reveals the dynamics that underpin shared leadership and gives a clear understanding of how these relational connections are constructed. In doing so, it indicates that shared leadership is an influence process that emerges from interactions, and resides in the relationships that exist in work groups. This study has therefore engaged with the complex – and topical - problems of how shared leadership emerges and the processes of leadership within experiential agencies, and has provided new empirical material which is important from both theoretical and practical perspectives.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Crowther, Philip
Additional Information: Director of studies: Philip Crowther
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.7190/shu-thesis-00308
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 30 Sep 2020 15:22
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:55
URI: https://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/27331

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