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The 'Corbyn phenomenon': Media representations of authentic leadership and the discourse of ethics versus effectiveness

Iszatt-White, M.; Whittle, A.; Gadelshina, G.; Mueller, F.

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Authors

M. Iszatt-White

A. Whittle

G. Gadelshina



Abstract

Whilst the academic literature on leadership has identified authenticity as an important leadership attribute, few studies have examined how authentic leadership is evaluated in naturally occurring discourse. This article explores how authentic leadership was characterised and evaluated in the discourse of the British press during the 2015 Labour Party leadership election—won, against the odds, by veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn. Using membership categorisation analysis, we show that the media discourse about authentic leadership was both ambiguous and ambivalent. In their representation of authentic leadership, we found that a discourse of ‘ethical’ leadership was played out in tension with a discourse of ‘effective’ leadership. We propose that this complex and contradictory discursive landscape is also relevant in business contexts where ‘ethical’ leaders are subjected to praise for their virtues but also criticism for their ineffectiveness. Future research could usefully study how ‘ethical’ leaders in different settings can be subject to competing evaluations when their ethical values are discursively contrasted to expectations concerning what it takes to be an ‘effective’ leader.

Citation

Iszatt-White, M., Whittle, A., Gadelshina, G., & Mueller, F. (2019). The 'Corbyn phenomenon': Media representations of authentic leadership and the discourse of ethics versus effectiveness. Journal of Business Ethics, 159(2), 535-549. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3838-x

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Mar 15, 2018
Publication Date 2019-10
Deposit Date Jun 22, 2020
Publicly Available Date Jun 23, 2020
Journal Journal of Business Ethics
Print ISSN 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN 1573-0697
Publisher Springer
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 159
Issue 2
Pages 535-549
DOI https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-018-3838-x
Public URL https://durham-repository.worktribe.com/output/1268377

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Publisher Licence URL
http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Copyright Statement
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativeco
mmons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.




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