Watson C (2013) The ironies of leadership: insights from a narrative analysis of the TV Western drama series, Rawhide. Organization, 20 (6), pp. 924-935. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350508412464896
Constructs of leadership remain deeply contested despite the research effort expended in this area, suggesting that alternative approaches yielding different insights may prove useful to furthering understanding of this enigmatic concept. In this article I adopt a narrative approach to explore constructions of leadership in and through the TV Western drama series Rawhide, a cattle drive epic, in which leadership is a central theme. Here, I present two readings of leadership as portrayed by trail boss Gil Favor and I draw on this double movement and the possibilities for ironic epiphany opened up by it in analysing leadership. The first reading addresses the text through the lens(es) of leadership theory drawing on both contemporary theory (Rawhide was first broadcast between 1959-1965) and more recent constructs. This analysis of the text produces insights into the epistemic constraints, or social discourses, which surround its production; the second reading looks for ways to disrupt the narrative of leadership presented. This gives rise to paradox and produces leadership as irony. The article concludes by considering the implications of this for conceptualizing leadership.
Organization: Volume 20, Issue 6