Making Leadership - Performances, Practices, and Positions that construct Leadership

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisCollection of Articles


This dissertation separates from the traditional leadership view that leadership stems from the actions of leader characters. Rather, it argues that context is the source from which leadership arises in organizational settings. In the dissertation leadership is understood as a social construction. Leadership is defined as a meaning of collective mobilisation towards a purpose: people perceive such a state as leadership. The dissertation is comprised of four individual essays. In the essays the construction of leadership is studied in two different cultural/organisational settings. Three of the essays study how organisational changes in an industrial organisation affected supervisory leadership. Contextual changes in supervisory tasks, practices and positions influenced the perceptions that organisational stakeholders had of supervisors and their leadership. The remaining essay focuses on presidential leadership. The essay analyses how ritualistic performance (an informal fishing ritual) was mythologized in media, creating a lasting interpretation of the presidential leadership. The studies adopt an interpretative research approach and apply narrative analysis as their primary research method. Overall, the dissertation shows how context partakes in the construction of leadership. It explains how leadership is not the direct result of the leader actions, but becomes constituted in an entangled web of sociomaterial elements and actors. The study shows how the leadership constituting elements have a common, mundane quality; by nature, they have no exclusive leadership character, but become infused with leadership in a meaning making process. The dissertation lays the ground for novel ways to both study leadership as contextually generated action and to develop leadership through contextual organisational interventions.
Translated title of the contributionMaking Leadership - Performances, Practices, and Positions that construct Leadership
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor's degree
Awarding Institution
  • Aalto University
  • Vartiainen, Matti, Supervisor
  • Mantere, Saku, Advisor, External person
Print ISBNs978-952-60-7021-6
Electronic ISBNs978-952-60-7020-9
Publication statusPublished - 2016
MoE publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)


  • leadership
  • context
  • practice theory
  • sociomateriality
  • supervisory leadership
  • presidential leadership
  • cultural social theory
  • social constructionism

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