Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Journal of Change Management
For a Special Issue on
Next Generation of Leadership-as-Practice: Reconceptualizing Change
31 October 2023
Special Issue Editor(s)
University of Auckland
Kansas State University
University of Reading
Next Generation of Leadership-as-Practice: Reconceptualizing Change
Background: The field of leadership-as-practice, or L-A-P, has produced a first generation of research with widespread coverage in publications and conferences, and is moving to greater specificity as it attempts to consolidate its theoretical and applied contributions. At the same time, the field is at a critical juncture in its theorizing and requires more focus on the agency of the collective in regard to change in its research and application. Simultaneously, the Journal of Change Management has refocused on the framing of leadership and organizational development as practices, with a particular emphasis on change management processes. At its core, L-A-P is about change because it defines leadership as a change in trajectories or in turning points within the flow of practice. The purpose of this Special Issue is to launch the next generation of L-A-P studies pursuing the idea of changes in practice.
Definition: L-A-P is derived from practice theory, which, per Bourdieu (1977), proposes that we study practice as the fundamental social phenomenon. A practice is considered an embodied collective set of practical accomplishments among people, space, and their artifacts (Schatzki, Knorr Cetina, and von Savigny, 2001). Practice tends to be historically developed and encompasses everyday tacit problem-solving and coping skills as well as emerging dynamics within a sharing community (Raelin, 2016). As noted earlier, change is embedded in the very nature of L-A-P as people mutually constitute new practices as they engage with and are molded by others and their surroundings. These changes in practice do not reside outside of leadership but are ascribed normative meaning based on ongoing socio-political interactions among the involved people, objects, and systems. In summary, in a L-A-P world, to find leadership, we must look to the practice within which it is occurring.
The Focus of Inquiry in the Field of L-A-P: Our call is designed to solicit new and established scholars to undertake studies in the field of leadership-as-practice because so much has yet to be explored. It is important to remember that we are studying leadership when immersed in practices, themselves embedded within social relations. Practices are emergent and unlike static models occur in relation to phenomena in flow. It is also important to stress that we are studying leadership AS a practice as well as the changes occurring in the movement of such practice. We start with the practices rather than on leaders or their behaviors since, as defined earlier, we are interested in the unfolding processes of interaction not on the entities involved in such interaction. So, for example, we might ask why a powerpoint presentation can advance our leadership in one setting but not in another. Or why and how our team hums along like a single instrument and advances leadership in one time but breaks apart in another? L-A-P studies thus need to focus on what makes a practice effective or what changes a practice - in other words, what sayings and doings create, shape, or disrupt leadership. Accordingly, interpretative forms of inquiry applying ethnographic as well as narrative and aesthetic approaches are needed to capture the embodied activity concurrently in process (Alvehus and Crevani, 2022).
Opportunities for Future Research and Application: There has been substantial foundational work in developing the L-A-P concept. In particular, writers have focused on mapping its boundaries compared to other aligned disciplines in plural leadership; on tracing its philosophical and ethical roots; on differentiating its key conceptual themes, in particular, identity, materiality, power, dialogue, context, and agency; on outlining the most promising approaches for methodological exploration; and on its developmental opportunities. Yet, an opportunity still exists to address under-explored aspects of L-A-P theorizing and application, especially in the domains of change, power, and culture and their intersections (Vilas-Boas, Davel, and de Sousa Bispo, 2018; Raelin, 2022). For example, although L-A-P has been defined as a moment of change in the flow of practice, its contribution to social change has so far been limited, although it has been outspoken in prodding the conversation away from the single out-in-front actor to collective actions. Further, in appreciation of this journal’s commitment to MAD (Making a Difference), the Special Issue would seek to accompany the contribution of the telos of social justice and the enablement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) with exploratory study of the processes that detail the actual doings or enactments of leadership in these contexts.
Accordingly, this Special Issue will seek papers that can delve into such un- or under-explored areas as:
- Studying agency from a collective point of view to determine how individuals in interaction with other agents and artifacts might change longstanding practices, and if so, how?
- Implications for organizational change of leadership being viewed as a consequence of collective activity rather than a cause, shifting the focus from the adequacy of any given leader to the practices, artifacts, voices, physical arrangements, or time sequences of the group
- Discovery of the ideology and ethics of L-A-P as well as its commitment to social justice through its perpetual examination of democratic and responsible management practices
- Process-oriented, longitudinal, and narrative approaches aimed at understanding leadership dynamics from within, such as using ethnographic and multimodal methods
- The use of micro-ethnographic approaches, such as the capture of “small stories,” mindful of their locality in space and time, to study the multimodality of leadership
- Phenomenological inquiries that draw nearer to lived reality, including data below the surface beyond the so-called “natural attitude,” and the contestable handling of “bracketing” in order to appreciate and interpret the practices and context of the participant
- The role of micro practices in affecting turning points and changes in trajectories as a means of understanding leadership within collaborative processes
- The roles, actions, and interactions of materiality in shaping sociomaterial leadership
- Horizontal linkages to other fields, such as action research, organization development, or collective leadership to find common theoretical insights,
- L-A-P during times of crisis and in settings experiencing discursive breakdowns
- The nature of institutional forces stabilizing or adapting a set of practices
Addendum: Online Paper Development Workshop to be Offered
Given the innovative nature of this emerging field, the guest editorial team will be offering an online paper development workshop to help participants develop well-crafted manuscripts suitable for submission to the Special Issue. The workshop will feature a panel constituting the L-A-P Research Committee. To prepare for this workshop, participants will be asked to have in hand a 2-3 slide, 5-minute presentation of a conceptual, empirical, or applied idea to share at the breakout sessions.
These workshops will be held on two dates for your convenience, the first one best for those in Europe and the Americas, the second for those in Asia and Oceania.
Wednesday, 26 April 2023, 15:00 BST; Wednesday, 26 April 2023, 10:00 EDT
Tuesday, 16 May 2023, 19:00 CDT; Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 12:00 NZST
To register, please visit the EventBrite page: L-A-P Paper Development Workshop, url:
Papers, due by 31 October, 2023, must be be anonymized, meet the journal’s guidelines, and include a MAD statement. See the Instructions for Authors as specified here: https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=rjcm20
Please email your paper to: Prof. Joe Raelin at: [email protected]
Authors whose papers are initially accepted for the special issue will have three months after receiving their review to submit their revision.
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