At the 18th International Studying Leadership Conference at Bristol Business School, Monica Lindgren and Johann Packendorff presented a study of department-level collective leadership work processes in Swedish universities. Drawing upon a notion of leadership work as co-constructed by many organisational actors in interaction, we show how leadership work among senior faculty increasingly becomes concerned with administrative/regulative issues. Our respondents describe how meetings, tasks distributed to ad hoc teams, committee work etc., become increasingly time-consuming and mandatory to partake in. This leadership work also becomes increasingly focussed on receiving and handling administrative issues referred to them by central university bodies, or on the formulation and implementation of internal regulations.
The consequence of the above leadership work processes is that leadership work becomes increasingly irrelevant to daily teaching and research activities and at the same time increasingly time-consuming and central for involved senior faculty. The growing centrality of this particular form of leadership work in the daily life of faculty is self-reinforcing, both due to the content of work (which constantly calls for further decisions, adjustments and remedies) and to growing expectations on senior faculty to perform precisely this sort ’organizational responsibility’ and ’collegiality’ instead of withdrawing into their own teaching and research. Not only are formal managers in the ’chain of command’ pursuing this kind of leadership work, it is also colonising and redefining notions of collegiality and citizenship amongst senior faculty in general.