University of Hertfordshire

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Authority, Power and Distributed Leadership

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-160
Number of pages6
JournalManagement in Education
Early online date28 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - 18 Oct 2016


A much greater understanding is needed of power in the practice of distributed leadership. This article explores how the concept of social authority might be helpful in achieving this. It suggests that the practice of distributed leadership is characterized by multiple authorities which are constructed in the interactions between people. Rather than there being a uniform hierarchy (relatively flat or otherwise) of formal authority, organizational members may be ‘high’ in some authorities and ‘low’ in others, and people’s positioning in relation to these authorities is dynamic and changeable. The article maps different forms of authorities, provides illustrations from educational institutions, and concludes with implications for educational leadership. A key conclusion is that everyone is involved in the ongoing production of authorities by contributing to who is accepted as or excluded from exercising authority and leadership


This is the Accepted Manuscript version of an article accepted for publication in Management and Education following peer review. The version of record, Philip Woods, ‘Authority, power and distributed leadership’, Management and Education, Vol 30(4): 155-160, first published online 28 September 2016, is available online via doi: 10.1177/0892020616665779 © 2016 British Educational Leadership, Management & Administration Society (BELMAS) Published by SAGE.

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