Informal Leadership

“Information and informality: Leaders as information brokers in a high-tech firm” by Magnus Larsson, Solveig Segerstéen, and Cathrin Svensson was recently published in the Journal of Leadership & Organization OnlineFirst. Magnus Larsson has provided us with some additional insight into the article:

Who is the target audience for this article?

The target audience for the article is both academics, interested in leadership, and managers in knowledge-intensive organizations, that might be interested in developing their knowledge and perspectives on leadership and knowledge sharing. The inspiration for the specific topic of informal leadership came from the engagement with the organization during fieldwork, where it became obvious that some individuals played very important roles in the everyday functioning in the organization. We became curious about these individuals, their role and function, and how it is that they were perceived as informal leaders. And the result is the article.

Were There Findings That Were Surprising To You?

Indeed, we were surprised by the role played by these informal leaders. Our assumption what they do for the organization is what formal leaders should do, and that in case these formal leaders fail to do it, it is a question of developing them. Instead, we learned that important functions are shared between formal and informal leaders, so they supplement each other in a rather smooth and organic fashion.

How Do You See This Study Influencing Future Research And/Or Practice?

I do hope this study might influence further leadership studies in two ways. There clearly is a need for more fieldwork and qualitative research in this area, through which phenomena like these become visible. Secondly, I do hope there will be more interest in other aspects of leadership apart from formal, managerial leadership, of which informal leadership is only one.

How Does This Study Fit Into Your Body Of Work/Line Of Research?

This study fits well with my general interest in situated, practical leadership. Most of my research on leadership has a clear focus on everyday practices, of which this is just one aspect. What is distinct in this study, also in relation to most of my research, is the focus on informal leadership.

How Did Your Paper Change During The Review Process?

The review process has been very constructive for the development of the paper. Through very constructive and detailed comments, the reviewers have helped me and my co-authors see and identify limitations and deficits in the paper, and to the extent possible, correct them. Some limitations can only be acknowledged, as they concern the fieldwork and empirical material. Subsequent studies will take both the findings and the limitations of this study into account, and hopefully further contribute to the development of the field.

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