Followership theory: A review and research agenda

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Followership theory: A review and research agenda
The Leadership Quarterly

While theory and research on leaders and leadership abound followers and followership theory have been given short shrift. It is accepted wisdom that there is no leadership without followers yet followers are very often left out of the leadership research equation. Fortunately this problem is being addressed in recent research with more attention being paid to the role of followership in the leadership process. The purpose of this article is to provide a systematic review of the followership literature and from this review introduce a broad theory of followership into leadership research. Based on our review we identify two theoretical frameworks for the study of followership one from a role-based approach (“reversing the lens”) and one from a constructionist approach (“the leadership process”). These frameworks are used to outline directions for future research. We conclude with a discussion of conceptual and methodological issues in the study of followership theory.

The Leadership Quarterly 25 (2014) 83 – 104

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