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Dissensual Leadership: Rethinking democratic leadership with Jacques Rancière

Barthold, Charles; Checchi, Marco; Imas, Miguel; Smolović Jones, Owain


Charles Barthold

Marco Checchi

Miguel Imas


The democratic leadership literature emphasises those leadership practices that involve dialogue and communication within the frame of reference of existing organizational structures, discourses and hierarchies. Our contribution is to problematise this approach to democracy from the perspective of the work of Jacques Rancière, which highlights the importance of dissensus, that is to say a breaking away from organizational structures and hierarchies. We argue that this allows us to conceptualise collective leadership in a postfoundational way that connects a critique of individual and organization-bound leadership to a democratic logic, in particular through Rancière’s analysis of the myth of the murder of the shepherd. This also enables us to study radically disruptive, non-hierarchical and pre-dialogic dimensions of leadership that may destruct as well as construct. Two democratic leadership practices are outlined: contingent acts of leadership and the practice of radical contestation. Our argument is that both practices of democratic leadership can be deployed as radical ruptures and disruptions of organizational orders, beyond dialogue.


Barthold, C., Checchi, M., Imas, M., & Smolović Jones, O. (2022). Dissensual Leadership: Rethinking democratic leadership with Jacques Rancière. Organization, 29(4), 673-691.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Oct 26, 2020
Publication Date 2022-07
Deposit Date Jan 7, 2024
Journal Organization
Print ISSN 1350-5084
Electronic ISSN 1461-7323
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 29
Issue 4
Pages 673-691
Keywords Management of Technology and Innovation; Strategy and Management; General Business, Management and Accounting
Public URL