Professor Mary Uhl-Bien, Howard Hawks Chair in Business Ethics and Leadership and Co-Director, Institute for Innovative Leadership, College of Business Administration, University of Nebraska-Lincoln USA

Complexity: The Next Frontier in Leadership Research

The field of leadership is in the midst of a paradigm shift, in which traditional models are giving way to new Mary Uhl portraitconceptualizations of leadership and organizing. As described by Hamel (2009), the principles of 'modern' management are over 100 years old, driving the need to develop new foundations for leadership.

Complexity leadership scholars are doing just this by using complexity concepts from the physical sciences to develop new foundations for theorizing about leadership. Similar to biology and physics, where complexity radically transformed views regarding orderliness of the universe (Wheatley, 1992), complexity is helping leadership scholars overcome the limits of bureaucratic logics in thinking about the dynamics of order in organizational life. Complexity is providing a new lexicon for leadership research and practice—one that considers leadership as occurring in both formal and informal processes, and as emerging in complex interactive dynamics. This model fits the new, 'dynamic equilibrium', paradigm that has been developing in organizational studies in the last two decades.

Dr. Uhl-Bien will provide an overview of the emerging field of complexity leadership, and discuss how and why it is changing the way we think about the study and practice of leadership.

Event details:

Wednesday, 18 April 2012, 16.30 - 18.00

Street Café
University of the West of England
Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane
Bristol BS16 1QY


Professor Uhl-Bien is Howard Hawks Chair in Business Ethics and Leadership at the University of Nebraska. Her current research and teaching interests are complexity leadership, relational leadership, followership and ethics. She is senior editor of the Leadership Horizons series for Information Age Publishers, and has served on the editorial boards of the premier academic journals in the field. Dr. Uhl-Bien is a founding member of the Network of Leadership Scholars in the Academy of Management. She has lectured at universities around the world, and has been a visiting scholar at universities in Sweden, Portugal, and Spain. Her research findings are generated from partnerships with Lockheed Martin, Bank of America, Stryker, Walt Disney World, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Air Force Academy, and she is active in consulting and executive education nationally and internationally, teaching for the Brookings Institute, the Gallup Organization, and universities in both the U.S. and Europe.

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