Leadership: the complexities and state of the field

Catherine Clark, Christian Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)
342 Downloads (Pure)


The purpose of this literature review is to advance contemporary cognisance of the leadership field and its current state, through the synthesis and development of earlier contributions. A taxonomy of evolutionary eras is tendered, from which future research opportunities can be extrapolated.

This paper conducts a narrative literature review of significant leadership literature. There is a focus on prominent contributions which are considered to have been highly influential within the field, whilst acknowledging other notable influences.

Leadership is found to be a multifaceted and evolving field, which continues to produce further research fields. This dynamism hinders the progression of leadership to achieve integration. Eleven interrelated eras of leadership, which hold varying research value, were found. Whilst some eras superficially appear to be discredited, there is arguably scope for these to be developed in contemporary context. Currently the leadership approaches which
are replete with research opportunities include servant leadership, a skills approach, and entrepreneurial leadership.

Research limitations/implications:
Leadership is a vast research area with numerous contributions to its body of work, therefore, this review has focused on prominent contributions, and has not attempted to include all available literature. The dissemination of leadership literature has allowed for research gaps to emerge, and future research recommendations to be drawn.

Whilst there is an extensive body of leadership literature, there are few reviews of the literature. A comprehensive contemporary review facilitates an examination of the current complexities and state of the leadership field.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514-528
Number of pages15
JournalEuropean Business Review
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2018


  • Leadership
  • Literature review
  • Leadership skills
  • Entrepreneurial leadership


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