Relational leadership in global multistakeholder groups.
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This doctoral thesis explores relational leadership in global multistakeholder groups. As a complete participant observer, I used grounded theory to investigate relational processes through which leadership is constructed, sustained and deconstructed within a global multistakeholder group. By a global multistakeholder group I mean a group made up of multistakeholder categories from different parts of the world. The research setting is situated within the ISO 26000 Working Group on Social Responsibility (WGSR). The study thereby fills a gap in the leadership literature insofar as there is no substantial body of academic literature on leadership processes within a global multistakeholder setting. The majority of leadership studies have considered leadership from an entity perspective. This study examines leadership from a relational perspective. A relational perspective was more pertinent for such an informal setting with no rigid organisational structure and procedures. In the current thesis, leadership is recognised as a modified form of status (Uhl- Bien, 2006). From this perspective, relational processes are considered as leadership when the social influence that is generated contributes to the emergence of social order and new approaches, attitudes, and goals. The findings show that consensus-building, legitimacy and delegation to groups are significant organising acts and activities of leadership relational processes. Those acts contribute to the emergence, preservation and disbandment of leadership in a global multistakeholder group. The data also reveal the importance of consensus and delegation to groups in maintaining or destabilizing the social order within the setting. This research also offers a theory of delegation to groups in global multistakeholder settings which could be considered as a substantial contribution. The outcomes of this study are a reference point for research on relational leadership in global multistakeholder groups. It is also intended to be a catalyst for more consideration of relational perspectives in leadership. Furthermore, it will enhance greater concern for cultural and regional diversity in the constitution of similar groups in the future. The major challenge has been around identifying the extent that relational processesconstitute leadership. Moreover, studies about dynamic approaches such as relational perspectives are much harder to generalize from but possess greater potential for improving leadership theories and practices. CHAPTERS 5, 6, 7 AND 8 HAVE BEEN RESTRICTED FOR CONFIDENTIALITY REASONS.