Performing Leadership "In-Between" Earth and Sky

  • Florence Allard-Poesi Université Paris-Est, Institut de Recherche en Gestion
  • Yvonne Giordano Université Nice Sophia-Antipolis


This research aims to understand how leaders with different expertise perform distributed leadership through their discursive acts. Relying on Searle’s (1976) Speech Acts Theory and its derivative model of organizing through communication as developed by Cooren (2001) and Fairhurst (2007; Cooren & Fairhurst, 2004), we conduct an in-depth analysis of the interactions (through emails and phone calls) between the forecasters (the “earth”) and the team leaders (the “sky”) during the summit attempts of two commercial expeditions: one to Broad Peak and one to Mt. Everest via the Northern Ridge. Our research contributes to the understanding of the enactment of distributed leadership in three ways. Firstly, it provides an unprecedented description of the pattern of speech acts through which leaders perform two configurations of distributed leadership, namely coordinated leadership and collaborated leadership (Spillane, 2006). Secondly, the process analysis conducted on the forecaster and team leader interactions shows that these two leadership configurations do not completely substitute for each other, contrary to what previous studies in education have argued, but can coexist during the same expedition. Thirdly, our research contributes to a socio-constructionist perspective on leadership in showing how, while confronted with similar physical, technological, and socioeconomic conditions and demands, the team leaders and the forecasters enact noticeably different leadership configurations.


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How to Cite
Allard-Poesi, F., & Giordano, Y. (2015). Performing Leadership "In-Between" Earth and Sky. M@n@gement, 18(2), 102-131. Retrieved from
Original Research Articles