As the world recovers from a pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed the poorest and most vulnerable amongst us, it is worth taking some time to reflect on whether leadership studies is as relevant as it could be to the problems of our world. Does it need a reboot and if so, how drastic should this be and in which directions should we channel change?
Notions of rebooting suggest something more than piecemeal or incremental alterations and instead evoke a foundational change to the operating system. In contrast, a reset is something we do with machines that have glitched so that we can return them to their regular modes of functioning. Which one of these does leadership studies need?
The International Studying Leadership Conference is hosted by The Open University’s Research into Employment, Empowerment and Futures academic centre of excellence, a group dedicated to exploring emancipatory futures of work. We invite submissions that offer insight into how leadership could be conceptualised or practiced for the future, through offering an innovative, critical or unusual interpretation.
Submissions can come in the form of papers or workshop ideas. Bearing in mind the rebooting theme, we are open to ‘naïve’ entries into our field from outside, by scholars who think leadership could be a useful framing for their work. We now offer provocations that we hope will stimulate but not restrict submission ideas.
Grace Blakeley is the author of The Corona Crash: How the Pandemic Will Change Capitalism. She is a staff writer at Tribune magazine, host of the 'A World to Win' podcast and author of 'Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation'.
Grace previously worked as a research fellow for the Institute for Public Policy Research and as the New Statesman’s economic commentator. She appears regularly in the media as a political and economic commentator, including appearances on Question Time, BBC This Week, and BBC Breakfast.
Brigid is a Professor in the Department of Management and International Business and holds the Fletcher Building Employee Education Fund Chair in Leadership. She teaches broadly in the area of leadership, organisational theory and qualitative research methods at undergraduate, postgraduate and executive level and does extensive cross sector leadership development work with corporate, community, professional, and youth organisations.
Jean is Professor of Public Leadership at The Open University and also Academic Director of The Open University Centre for Policing Research and Learning, which is The Open University’s collaboration with 22 UK police forces/agencies (2/3 of the UK policing workforce) to create and use knowledge to improve policing for the public good.
Jean researches and teaches in the field of public leadership and management, across a range of public services including police, local government, health, prisons and civil service.
Helena Liu is a senior lecturer at UTS Business School in Sydney, Australia. Her research focuses on the discursive construction of leadership. This approach has led her to examine how leaders account for failure and the social construction of authenticity among banking CEOs during the Global Financial Crisis. Central to her work is a critique of the gendered, racialised, and classed nature of our enduring romance with leadership.
Dr Jamie Woodcock is a senior lecturer at The Open University and a researcher based in London. He is the author of The Fight Against Platform Capitalism, The Gig Economy, Marx at the Arcade, and Working the Phones. His research is inspired by workers inquiry and focuses on labour, work, the gig economy, platforms, resistance, organising, and videogames. He is on the editorial board of Notes from Below and Historical Materialism.