Unpacking followership in a management consultancy
Sammanfattning: Purpose – The purpose behind our study was to understand how individuals socially construct followership in a management consultancy. We did this through exploring the relations between consultants and their selected leaders, as well as through exploring how they related to the notion of followership. Literature review – We selected theory that was relevant with respect to our research question and the aim of our study. Firstly, we shortly reviewed the field of followership, by looking at existing views, after which we took our own stance within this literature. We then continued with theory about social constructions, that is, about contextual attributes, schemas, and subject positions. Finally, we presented theory that could be connected to the context that encompassed our thesis, which was about professional service firms and knowledge intensive firms. Methodology – To fulfill our purpose and answer our research question we conducted a case study. We used an interpretative and abductive approach that allowed an iterative dialogue between the data and theory. The methods of our choice were qualitative and our empirical data consisted of 15 interviews, conducted at our case company CMC. Yet we also cross–checked our findings with documents and minor observations. Findings – We found that followership is a phenomenon which can be constructed, interpreted and acted upon in various ways, dependent upon individual points of reference and context. We displayed these various interpretations via four subject positions: the coachee, the networker, the tourist, and the owner. As our findings pointed to the importance of context, we thereby abstained from arguing that these constructions were in any way absolute or linear. Contributions – Our contribution to the existing literature offers a perspective on how followership was socially constructed in a management consultancy. We mainly distinguished our findings from the existing followership research by abstaining from imposing definitions on participants, but rather aimed to reflect the multiplicity of meanings amongst actors in the field. Thereby, we aimed to offer a more grounded understanding of followership.
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