NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1019240
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Sep
Pages: 17
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1741-1432
Distributed Leadership: The Uses and Abuses of Power
Lumby, Jacky
Educational Management Administration & Leadership, v41 n5 p581-597 Sep 2013
In about a decade the theory of distributed leadership has moved from a tool to better understand the ecology of leadership to a widely prescribed practice. This article considers how to account for its spread and dominance and what purpose it serves. The concept offers an enticing suggestion of including more in leadership, and even sometimes including staff members equally. The resulting issues around distribution of power are largely ignored or referred to in passing; a kind of inclusivity lite, which does not engage with, for example, issues of gender or ethnicity. Using a range of concepts of power, the article explores the ways power is enacted in how distributed leadership is theorized and how it has been promoted. It is suggested that opportunities to contribute to leadership are not equal and that distributed leadership remains silent on persistent structural barriers. The theory's confusions, contradictions and utopian depictions are argued to be a profoundly political phenomenon, replete with the uses and abuses of power. The conclusion suggests that the effect of distributed leadership theory is to maintain the power status quo.
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Journal Articles
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A