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Modeling Identities in Context: A Dynamical Systems Approach to Leader-Follower Identities

Nieberle, K.W.; Acton, B.P.; Braun, S.; Lord, Robert G.



Although leadership and followership processes are flexible and fluid, our theoretical and empirical knowledge of the short-term dynamics in individuals’ leadership and followership identities are limited. Building on a Dynamical Systems Perspective we argue that leadership and followership identities are complex systems, that are composed of multiple interacting elements that exhibit emergent and nonlinear intra-personal identity dynamics. With the goal to explore these patterns of leader-follower identity variability across different contexts we address two questions: (1) How are individuals’ leadership and followership identity dynamics characterized in different contexts associated with uncertainty? (2) How are these leadership and followership identity dynamics interrelated within different contexts? We collected daily data from a total of 69 Undergraduate students (1,159 data points) in the United Kingdom across seven-day periods in three different contexts during the academic year. Findings from dynamical systems modeling reveal the entangled nature of leadership and followership identities, different attractor states as well as consequences of COVID-19 on leadership and followership identity dynamics.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jun 30, 2021
Online Publication Date Jul 26, 2021
Publication Date Aug 1, 2021
Deposit Date Jan 24, 2023
Journal Academy of Management Proceedings
Print ISSN 0065-0668
Electronic ISSN 2151-6561
Publisher Academy of Management
Volume 2021
Issue 1
Public URL