Intellectual failure and ideological success in organization studies: the case of transformational leadership

Dan Kärreman, Mats Alvesson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper discusses the current self-confidence and apparent success – at least by market/popularity measures – of leadership studies in general and transformational leadership in particular. An alternative interpretation is offered, suggesting that it is the ideological character of these approaches that account fortune their ’success’, at least in quantitative terms. Their wide appeal needs to be understood against the background of the fragmentation in the field before the entrance of these much more popularly appealing, but theoretically questionable ideas which lack credible empirical support. The paper concludes that the currently popular streams are strongly structured by ideology – drawing upon hero and religious mythologies – and that future work need to find ways to reduce the ideological overtone and the resulting tendency to produce tautologies and biased results
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Management Inquiry
Early online date11 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2015

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