Leadership in a Complex World

Program Code: 
Description of Work: 


The aim of the research is to investigate the concept of leadership in complex social


Description of Work:

Contemporary leaders operate in a world of complex challenges and are expected to perform within complex,

rapidly changing and uncertain environments. Issues are multifaceted, interactive with other sets of issues,

problems are ambiguous, their underlying causes are unclear, and once one problem is addressed it seemingly

becomes interconnected with other issues.

The research would positioned broadly within the research cluster for the School of Business The key domains

of the cluster are rebuilding fragile states (business, social, peacekeeping and peace-building operations),

governance and change (exercise of collective power across boundaries) and the management of skills and

knowledge in these complex situations.

The research could address

· leadership in situations of complex governance arrangements (e.g. civil-military

interaction in humanitarian assistance).

· experience of leadership from a cross cultural or cross generational perspective

· leadership in crisis contexts

The research could explore issues such as how leadership is construed, defined, emerges and is meaningful in

these contexts. The research would need to be able to define leadership using an appropriate framework and

categorise instances of leadership in order to achieve focused analysis of specific events or situations. The

models would enable the leadership variable being investigated to be linked to outcomes or other consequences.

The research might consider implications for conceptualizing leadership and the language in which leadership is

explained and constructed.

A viable project would need access to organizations or key actors or groups so as to obtain data sets, capacity

to collate data sets or access for interviews or means to obtain primary data.


Dr James Warn (j.warn@adfa.edu.au)