Volume 7, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This paper explores how power relations are enacted and negotiated in the largely under-researched non-hierarchal leadership constellation of distributed leadership. Drawing on more than 300 hours of audio-recorded interactions of a corpus of interdisciplinary research group meetings, we analyse how members of a team that does not have an officially assigned leader or chair regularly draw on teasing thereby enacting and reflecting, as well as sometimes challenging existing power relations. Findings show that the highly ambiguous discursive strategy of teasing enables all members, regardless of their official role or position, to contribute to the team’s leadership performance. However, findings also show that although teasing has the potential to facilitate more collaborative approaches to leadership, the ways in which power is actually enacted in our data resembles more traditional hierarchical leadership constellations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alberts, Jess. K
    1992 “An Inferential/strategic Explanation for the Social Explanation of Teases.” Journal of Language and Social Psychology11(3): 153–177. doi: 10.1177/0261927X92113003
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0261927X92113003 [Google Scholar]
  2. Alvesson, Mats , and André Spicer
    2012 “Critical Leadership Studies: The Case for Critical Performativity.” Human Relations65(3): 367–390. doi: 10.1177/0018726711430555
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726711430555 [Google Scholar]
  3. Barker, James
    1993 “Tightening the Iron Cage: Concertive Control in Self-Managing Teams.” Administrative Science Quarterly38: 408–437. doi: 10.2307/2393374
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2393374 [Google Scholar]
  4. 1999The Discipline of Teamwork. Participation and Concertive Control. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Baxter, Judith
    2010The Language of Female Leadership. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230277915
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230277915 [Google Scholar]
  6. Boxer, Diana , and Florencia Cortés-Conde
    1997 “From Bonding to Nipping to Biting: Conversational Joking and Identity Display.” Journal of Pragmatics27(3): 275–294. doi: 10.1016/S0378‑2166(96)00031‑8
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S0378-2166(96)00031-8 [Google Scholar]
  7. Clifton, Jonathan
    2006 “A Conversation Analytical Approach to Business Communication.” Journal of Business Communication43(3): 202–219. doi: 10.1177/0021943606288190
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0021943606288190 [Google Scholar]
  8. Choi, Seongsook , and Stephanie Schnurr
    2014 “Exploring Distributed Leadership. SolvingDisagreements and Negotiating Consensus in a ‘Leaderless’ Team.” Discourse Studies16(1): 3–24. doi: 10.1177/1461445613508891
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445613508891 [Google Scholar]
  9. Daly, Nicola , Janet Holmes , Jonathan Newton , and Maria Stubbe
    2004 “Expletives as Solidarity Signals in FTAs on the Factory Floor.” Journal of Pragmatics36(5): 945–964. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2003.12.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2003.12.004 [Google Scholar]
  10. Day, David , Peter Gronn , and Eduardo Salas
    2004 “Leadership Capacity in Teams.” Leadership Quarterly15(6): 857–880. doi: 10.1016/j.leaqua.2004.09.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.leaqua.2004.09.001 [Google Scholar]
  11. Eisenberg, Ann
    1986 “Teasing: Verbal play in two Mexicano homes.” InLanguage Socialization Across Cultures, ed. by B. Schieffelin and E. Ochs . 182–198. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Fairclough, Norman
    1992Discourse and Social Change. Cambridge: Polity Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. 1995Critical Discourse Analysis. Boston: Addison Wesley.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Ferch, Shann , and Matthew Mitchell
    2001 “Intentional Forgiveness in Relational Leadership: A Technique for Enhancing Effective Leadership.” Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies7(4): 70–83. doi: 10.1177/107179190100700406
    https://doi.org/10.1177/107179190100700406 [Google Scholar]
  15. Fletcher, Joyce
    1999Disappearing Acts. Gender, Power, and Relational Practice at Work. 
Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Foucault, Michel
    1980Power/Knowledge. New York: Pantheon.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gee, James Paul , Glynda Hull , and Colin Lankshear
    1996The New Work Order. Behind the Language of the New Capitalism. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Glenn, Phillip
    2003Laughter in Interaction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511519888
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511519888 [Google Scholar]
  19. Grint, Keith
    2005Leadership: Limits and Possibilities (Management, Work and Organisation). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Gronn, Peter
    2002 “Distributed Leadership as a Unit of Analysis.” Leadership Quarterly13(4): 423–451. doi: 10.1016/S1048‑9843(02)00120‑0
    https://doi.org/10.1016/S1048-9843(02)00120-0 [Google Scholar]
  21. Gunnarsson, Britt-Louise
    2009Professional Discourse. London: Continuum.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Hay, Jennifer
    1994 “Jocular Abuse in Mixed-Group Interaction.” Wellington Working Papers in Linguistics6: 26–55.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Heenan, David A. , and Warren Bennis
    1999Co-leaders: The power of great partnerships. New York: John Wiley & Sons.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Holmes, Janet
    1998 “Women’s Talk: The Question of Sociolinguistic Universals.” InLanguage and Gender. A Reader, ed. by Jennifer Coates , 461–183. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. 2000 “Politeness, Power and Provocation, How Humour Functions in the Workplace.” Discourse Studies2(2): 159–185. doi: 10.1177/1461445600002002002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445600002002002 [Google Scholar]
  26. 2006 “Sharing a laugh: pragmatic aspects of humor and gender in the workplace.” Journal of Pragmatics38(1): 26–50. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.007
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.06.007 [Google Scholar]
  27. 2007 “Humour and the Construction of Māori Leadership at Work.” Leadership3(1): 5–27. doi: 10.1177/1742715007073061
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715007073061 [Google Scholar]
  28. Holmes, Janet , and Maria Stubbe
    2003Power and Politeness in the Workplace: A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Talk at Work. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Jackson, Brad , and Ken Parry
    2008A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Studying Leadership. London: Sage Publications.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Jefferson, Gail
    2004 “A Note on Laughter in ‘Male-Female’ Interaction.” Discourse Studies6(1): 117–133. doi: 10.1177/1461445604039445
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1461445604039445 [Google Scholar]
  31. Mullany, Louise
    2007Gendered Discourse in the Professional Workplace. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230592902
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230592902 [Google Scholar]
  32. Nielsen, Jeffrey
    2004The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations. Palo Alto, Calif.: Davies-Black.
    [Google Scholar]
  33. Rogerson-Revell, Pamela
    2007 “Humour in Business: A Double-edged Sword. A Study of Humour and Style Shifting in Intercultural Business Meetings.” Journal of Pragmatics39: 4–28. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2006.09.005
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2006.09.005 [Google Scholar]
  34. 2011 “Chairing International Business Meetings: Investigating Humour and Leadership Style in the Workplace.” InConstructing Identities at Worked. by Jo Angouri and Meredith Marra , 61–84. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230360051_4
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230360051_4 [Google Scholar]
  35. Schnurr, Stephanie
    2008 “Surviving in a Man’s World with a Sense of Humour: An Analysis of Women Leaders’ use of Humour at Work.” Leadership4(3): 299–319. doi: 10.1177/1742715008092363
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715008092363 [Google Scholar]
  36. 2009a “Constructing Leader Identities through Teasing at Work.” Journal of Pragmatics41(6): 1125–1138. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2008.10.002 [Google Scholar]
  37. 2009bLeadership Discourse at Work. Interactions of Humour, Gender and Workplace Culture. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. doi: 10.1057/9780230594692
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230594692 [Google Scholar]
  38. Schnurr, Stephanie , and Angela Chan
    2009 “Leadership discourse and politeness at work: A cross-cultural case study of New Zealand and Hong Kong.” Journal of Politeness Research5(2): 131–157. doi: 10.1515/JPLR.2009.009
    https://doi.org/10.1515/JPLR.2009.009 [Google Scholar]
  39. 2011a “Exploring another Side of Co-Leadership: Negotiating Professional Identities through Face-Work in Disagreements.” Language in Society40(2): 187–210. doi: 10.1017/S0047404511000030
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0047404511000030 [Google Scholar]
  40. 2011b “When Laughter is not Enough. Responding to Teasing and Self-Denigrating Humour at Work.” Journal of Pragmatics43(1): 20–35. doi: 10.1016/j.pragma.2010.09.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2010.09.001 [Google Scholar]
  41. Svennevig, Jan
    2008 “Exploring Leadership Conversations.” Management Communication Quarterly21(4): 529–536. doi: 10.1177/0893318907313717
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0893318907313717 [Google Scholar]
  42. Thornborrow, Joanna
    2002Power Talk. Language and Interaction in Institutional Discourse. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Van Dijk, Teun
    2001 Critical Discourse Analysis. InHandbook of Discourse Analysis, ed. by D. Tannen , D. Schiffrin , and H. Hamilton , 352–371. Oxford: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Vine, Bernadette , Janet Holmes , Meredith Marra , Dale Pfeifer , and Brad Jackson
    2008 “Exploring Co-Leadership Talk through Interactional Sociolinguistics.” Leadership4(3): 339–360. doi: 10.1177/1742715008092389
    https://doi.org/10.1177/1742715008092389 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error