The 21st International Studying Leadership Conference – Call for Proposals

The 21st International Studying Leadership Conference
10th-12th December 2023
Copenhagen Business School, Denmark

ISLC featured on the popular podcast Phronesis, Practical Wisdom for Leaders.

Hear more about the ISLC conference as featured on the June 21st episode of the fantastic leadership podcast Phronesis, Practical Wisdom for Leaders, with host Scott Allen. While you’re there, check out the many other excellent episodes, including those featuring ISLC co-found Keith Grint, last year’s ISLC co-chair Dennis Tourish, this year’s co-chair Eric Guthey, keynote speakers from last year Donna Ladkin and Suze Wilson, and one of this year’s exciting keynote speakers, Mary Uhl-Bien.

Access entire conference information at:

The 21st International Studying Leadership Conference (ISLC) invites scholars, graduate students, and practitioners from a variety of fields to present their research and explore together the interrelated dynamics of leadership and systems change in the face of pressing and complex challenges facing organizations, communities, societies, and the planet as a whole.

Since its first meeting in 2002, the ISLC conference has provided a forum for rigorous analysis and reflection on the nature and purpose of leadership theory and research. ISLC conference participants have contributed significant alternatives to popularized theories of leadership addressed primarily toward boosting individual leader success inside commercial organizations. This work has helped expand the field of leadership studies to encompass relational and social perspectives on leadership in the context of other kinds of organizations, collective organizing efforts, and social movements. We intend for this year’s conference theme to further contribute to these developments.

This year’s theme highlights how the move toward systems thinking in leadership studies redefines collective organizing efforts as networks of interacting dynamics that produce emergent outcomes, and reconceives of leadership itself as a complex process of relational influence that enables interconnectivity and adaptability. A focus on systems change can help the field of leadership studies to cultivate renewed relevance in response to pressing, systemic challenges that currently face communities and organizations. Research conducted in this spirit has redrawn the boundaries of the field to address the interplay of power, collective leadership, and social change (Ospina & Foldy, 2022), the leadership dynamics of complex adaptive systems and contemporary grand challenges (Uhl-Bien, 2021), and the potential for post-colonial, feminist, and anti-racist theories to challenge imperialist and white, masculinist ideologies of leadership (Ashcraft, 2022; Liu, 2021).

With such research as inspiration, we invite papers, workshops, and all manner of creative presentations and formats that address the dynamics of leadership and systems change in the context of an array of pressing contemporary challenges, such as climate change and environmental degradation; economic inequality; technological complexity, digitalization, and surveillance systems; race- and gender-based discrimination and violence; and the rise of extremist, populist, nationalist, and militarist movements and political systems. We encourage proposals that explore how individuals, organizations, and communities can respond to such challenges with regenerative practices, collective organizing efforts, and creative business models that align with broader societal values and purposes (Kempster et al., 2019).

In the spirit of openness and epistemic respect for different views and approaches (Krlev & Spicer, 2022), our selection process will prioritize inclusivity, diversity, and plurality. Alongside submissions linked to the conference theme, we welcome theoretical and empirical proposals on other leadership themes and topics approached from a variety of different research paradigms, methodologies, and perspectives.

Because many complex leadership issues and challenges require deeper consideration than conventional conference presentations allow, we invite proposals not just for individual papers, but also for workshops, symposia, streams of sessions, and alternative formats for engagement that can facilitate extended conversations among existing networks and research groups, or establish new connections into the future. You are welcome to propose performances, debates, arts-based research, or brainstorming sessions, and you are welcome to take advantage of the conference to convene or expand existing networks of colleagues and fellow travellers.

The full conference will open with a reception on Sunday evening, December 10, and run through 17:30 CET on Tuesday December 12. We intend to host a pre-conference PhD workshop, as well as a pre-conference event for other conference participants, on the afternoon of December 10 (more information on pre-conference activities will be available May 1).

The conference will take place in the CBS facilities at Solbjerg Plads, Frederiksberg 2000, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Abstracts of 750 words can be submitted until Monday 31 July 2023. 

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