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Ledarskap, makt och känsla. En narrativ studie av unga ledare


Cecilia Åkerblom


Anna Wahl, Charlotte Holgersson


Professor Ulla Eriksson

Disputerat vid

KTH – Kungl Tekniska högskolan



Titel (se)

Ledarskap, makt och känsla. En narrativ studie av unga ledare

Titel (eng)

Leadership, Power and Emotion. A Narrative Study of Young Leaders


Institutionen för Industriell ekonomi och organisation

Leadership, Power and Emotion. A Narrative Study of Young Leaders

The aim of this thesis is to analyze how leadership is constructed as a narrative to explain what happens in organizations. Research on young co-workers in organizations has shown how young people are socialized into managerial and organizational cultures. At the same time these cultures and practices are changing. In addition, the younger generation is often expected to express new values or ideals in management. This thesis is developed from a social constructionist view on organization. The main research question is: How do young leaders construct leadership narratives in terms of their personal experience within organizations? The empirical material consists of interviews with 22 young leaders, 11 women and 11 men between 19 and 35 years old, encompassing 19 different organizations. Three of the young leaders were interviewed over a time period between one and two years. The remaining 19 were interviewed once.Leadership is constructed as the power to influence events and decisions in the organization and the responsibility for the outcome. Leadership is also constructed as an interpersonal power relationship. Leadership is analyzed as both construction and ordering of power and responsibility in interpersonal interactions. The analysis shows how the professional identity as a leader is constructed through a process of creative imitation. Emotions play an important role in the performance of the professional identity. Emotional experiences such as fear or vulnerability are often excluded or repressed in order to maintain competent professional appearances. Managers are expected to handle emotionally difficult situations. Prevailing responses to ignore the situation or not to see at all vs. to acknowledge, act and react are discussed. The latter category of responses is further analyzed as: to heal and to transform, to set boundaries and to react under stress. Fear or anxiety in these situations may activate survival strategies in interpersonal interactions. The underlying implication of the construction of leadership as an asymmetrical power relation may be that manipulation and codependency are plausible outcomes.

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