Affective Leadership Practices: A Framework for Studying Affect and Leadership from a Schatzkian Practice Approach
I developed this framework through a dialogue between theory and my empirical study. The empirical part of my research consisted of a seven-month ethnographic study in one nonprofit service organisation in Israel. I built the theoretical part of this framework by integrating and further synthesising the literatures on affective practices (Wetherell, 2012) and leadership-as-practice (Carroll, Levy, & Richmond, 2008; Raelin, 2016c) based on the practice theory of Theodore Schatzki (1996, 2002). I have called this integrated conceptual framework affective leadership practices.The methodological part of my framework was developed through an experimental process, in which I used different methods and occupied different organisational positions. I found that the method of “apprenticeship”, which entails the active participation of the researcher as a practitioner in the practice that is being studied (Wacquant, 2004, 2005, 2015), was very appropriate to use as the primary research method. This method allows the researcher to generate valuable embodied understanding of the practice that is being studied, while gaining great sensitivity to power relations.
This theory-method package (Nicolini, 2017) that I have developed has served me as a heuristic device, a synthesising framework for empirical research. It offered me a certain way to see and analyse leadership and affect (Reckwitz, 2002). Through my data analysis, I illustrate the type of understandings that this framework makes possible to generate. I illuminate the type of normative realities that prevail in the organisation that I studied, and offer nuanced understandings of the ways in which leadership and affect are involved in the construction and reconstruction of these realities. I illustrate how this takes place in reciprocal processes of affective influence that involve multiple human and non-human participants, through which organisational realities are constantly being reproduced, modified, and even resisted. My analysis also illuminates the embeddedness of leadership and the organisation where it manifests in the wider local context. This allows us to comprehend why the organisational realities that I investigated turned out to be in the way they are, who is empowered in these realities, and what effects these realities generate in their local context.
The research tools that I have developed in this study and this type of analysis that can be generated with them offer researchers critical, holistic, and situated understandings of leadership and the organisations it transpires from. It places the affective human body and its relations with other human and non-human participants in leadership at centre stage.