Communicative leadership : (Re)Contextualizing a Swedish concept in theory and within organizational settings

Abstract: The purpose of this thesis is to theorize about the concept of communicative leadership as well as explore the construction of the concept in three Swedish national and multinational organizations. ‘Communicative leadership’ is a concept often used in Swedish organizations and, in practice, refers to leaders’ communication competence related to others, and specifically toward her or his employees. It generally assumes that communicative leaders are better communicators than other leaders. Organizations using the concept accordingly evaluate and develop leaders’ communication competence. The thesis consists of five studies; one grounded in qualitative and quantitative literature on leadership and leadership communication and the other four using interviews with leaders and employees as datasets. The first article extends our understanding of communicative leadership with four communication behaviors to be applied toward developing leaders and defining communicative leadership with focus on leaders’ communicative behavior towards others. The results from the other four articles further contribute to our understanding of communicative leadership and they were obtained applying a constructionist and discursive framework in order to analyze the connections of contexts to the discourses of communicative leadership and highlight the socially constructed nature of communicative leadership. The results emphasize that different contexts found locally have consequences for the relation between leaders and employees, constitutively affecting local discourses and context. In addition to defining and conceptualizing the notion, this thesis thus also clarifies the roles of leaders and employees in leadership practices, highlights how micro- and macro-contexts interplay and what elements interact with them, mutually influencing consequences for perceptions and constructions of leadership locally. Furthermore, the empirical studies demonstrate that communicative leadership discourses do not just reveal contexts and how they are constituted and perceived; leaders’ and employees’ discourses can also reveal which changes organizational members desire to implement.