Distributed Leadership in SMEs: A Review, Critique and New Directions

John Mendy, Christian Harrison*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Despite abundant studies on the traditional approach to leadership, emerging and more recent studies suggest that the vertical process on which our understanding of the predominantly traditional way was based is increasingly being challenged by the notion of distributed leadership. Proponents of this style highlight the importance of a shared approach to leadership which, it is believed, will help organisations, especially resource-constrained ones like SMEs, to resolve crisis situations similar to those created by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Despite such a shift in leadership focus, the extent to which distributed leadership can resolve crisis-ridden SMEs in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been examined and therefore needs attention. The focus of this developmental paper is to review and critique the extant literature on the benefits that distributed leadership may have on resolving the challenges faced by SMEs within a socio-economic and political crisis akin to the COVID-19.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBritish Academy of Management 2021 Conference Proceedings
PublisherBritish Academy of Management
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-9956413-4-1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Aug 2021


  • Distributed leadership
  • Leadership
  • SMEs
  • COVID-19
  • Challenges


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