1. Sverre Spoelstra

  1. Department of Business Administration, Lund University, Sweden
  1. Sverre Spoelstra, Department of Business Administration, Lund University, BOX 7080, Lund 220 07, Sweden. Email: sverre.spoelstra{at}fek.lu.se
  1. Nick Butler

  1. Stockholm Business School, Stockholm University, Sweden
  1. Helen Delaney

  1. Department of Management and International Business, University of Auckland, New Zealand


In 2014, leadership studies saw the retraction of a number of journal articles written by prominent researchers who are closely
associated with popular concepts such as transformational leadership, authentic leadership, ethical leadership and spiritual
leadership. In response, The Leadership Quarterly published a lengthy editorial that presented these retractions as a sign of health in a mature scientific field. For the
editors of The Leadership Quarterly, there is no crisis in leadership studies. In this paper, we suggest that the editorial is a missed opportunity to reflect
on positivist leadership studies. In our view, leadership ought to be in crisis because this would stimulate the community to question its guiding assumptions and reconsider its methods
and objectives. We therefore hope to open up a critical discussion about the means and ends of mainstream leadership studies
– not least of all its scientific pretensions.

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Never let an academic crisis go to waste: Leadership Studies in the wake of journal retractions