Source: ISLC 2019 Leaflet

Let’s put Leadership in its Place!

The 18th International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC) will take place in December 2019 in Bristol (UK). The proposed conference theme, Putting Leadership in its Place, could give us a great opportunity to further link the two key concepts at the basis of our works and to better introduce our network and works to leadership scholars.


Leadership and Place are both highly debated concepts. They are used daily by millions of people and yet it is still quite challenging to define and explain them, and to agree on them.

What is leadership? What is place? And how can we understand and study the relationship between the two, when both concepts are still disputed and polysemic?


With the conference theme Putting Leadership in its Place, the next International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC 2019) could become the perfect environment to discuss and further develop the notions of these two important concepts and the relationship that exists between them. Also, it can be the occasion to better introduce the Place-based Leadership Network and its works to leadership scholars.


In fact, the literature on leadership and its definitions are immense and very diversified, yet it has been recognised that scholars tend to understand and explore leadership under five key and complementary lenses and approaches (Grint, 2005; Grint, Smolović Jones, & Holt, 2016):

  1. Leadership as/through a Person (the who);
  2. Leadership as/through a Result (the what);
  3. Leadership as/through a Position (the where);
  4. Leadership as/through a Purpose (the why);
  5. Leadership as/through a Process (the how).

Still, Jackson and Parry (2018) suggest that a sixth lens and approach should be added to this list, namely, Leadership as/through Place. Indeed, they argue that the characteristics of the place where leadership is created play an important role in leadership understandings and in leadership implementation, as place shapes leadership and leadership shapes place (Collinge, Gibney, & Mabey, 2010; Jackson & Parry, 2018). However, the authors struggle to use or delineate a notion of place and decide to describe it as follows:

  • Place as a particular position, point or area in space; a building or area used for a specific purpose; a vacancy or with respect to a person, a rank or status (The Oxford English Dictionary);
  • Place as something related to space and time;
  • Place as something that matters to people, whether it is real or imagined;
  • Place as something ‘inextricably tied to land’;
  • Place as location, locale and/or sense of place (Agnew, 2011).

The ISCL 2019 conference organisers, instead, understand the notion of place in broader terms, focusing on some of its important aspects (see Call for Contribution – below):

  • Geographical place;
  • Societal values and beliefs;
  • Organisational culture and space;
  • Structure, power, and politics;
  • Historical developments;
  • Discourse and language.


It is therefore evident that a further development of the notions of leadership and place and, accordingly, the understanding of their relationship, are fruitful topics for research and, given the interest of this network in place-based leadership studies, we can contribute to the success of this conference. Thus, I would like to invite everyone to submit a paper to ISLC 2019 and meet in Bristol.



About the International Leadership Conference 2019

Date: 16th-17th December 2019

Venue: Bristol Business School (UK)

Conference aims: to reflect on the place of place in leadership research, and the ways in which it may be studied, and to encourage thoughts on the various opportunities and potentialities that a place-based approach to leadership can bring.

More precisely, the conference organisers invite works that address the following questions:

  • What is place?
  • What aspects of place are important to consider for leadership practice?
  • How might we go about researching place and leadership practice?
  • What are the benefits of including place on the leadership research agenda?

Abstract Submission: from 1st June to 1st September 2019

For more details, read the full Call for Contribution (here) and/or visit the official event page (here).


An event page about this Conference is also published on this website (here).




Agnew, J. (2011). Space and Place. In J. Agnew & D. Livingstone (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Geographical Knowledge (pp. 316–330). London: SAGE Publications.

Collinge, C., Gibney, J., & Mabey, C. (2010). Leadership and place. Policy Studies, 31(4), 367–378.

Grint, K. (2005). Leadership: Limits and Possibilities. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Grint, K., Smolović Jones, O., & Holt, C. (2016). What is Leadership. Person, Result, Position, Purpose or Process, or All or None of These? In J. Storey, J. Hartley, J. Denis, P. ’t Hart, & D. Ulrich (Eds.), The Rouledge Companion to Leadership (pp. 3–20). Routledge.

Jackson, B., & Parry, K. (2018). A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Studying Leadership (Third Edit). SAGE Publications Ltd.


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Michela Pagani
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