Putting emergence back in leadership emergence: A dynamic, multilevel, process-oriented framework

By Bryan P. Acton, Roseanne J. Foti, Robert G. Lord, Jessica A. Gladfelter in Research

February 8, 2019


The study of leadership emergence has increased substantially over the past few decades. However, due to a lack of integrative theory, we believe limited advancement has been made regarding the full process of leadership emergence. To address this concern, first, we conceptualize the leadership emergence process from a complexity perspective and define emergence as a dynamic, interactive process grounded in three principles of emergent phenomena. Second, we review how previous research has modeled leadership emergence by focusing on the content areas of the lower-level elements, the mechanisms that facilitate their emergence, and the dynamism of the process once it has emerged. Third, based on the findings from the review, we introduce a process-oriented framework of leadership emergence. Fourth, we offer propositions to guide developing and testing emergent leadership processes, and we conclude with recommendations for future leadership process research. Our hope is that by realigning the study of leadership emergence with complexity and multilevel theory, we can reorient this area to focusing more on the process mechanisms within emergence, connecting back to research progress made over 60 years ago.

Posted on:
February 8, 2019
1 minute read, 180 words
leadership process leadership emergence
See Also:
Using Agent-Based Modeling to Test and Integrate Process-Oriented Perspectives of Leadership Emergence