Our Projects

Leadership Research & Projects

Leadership and followership are a key focus for SIGN research. These are central topics not only in organizational psychology, but also in social and political psychology, as well as in business business and management. Our ongoing research spans the full breadth of leadership — examining workplace leadership, leadership in sport, and broader issues of governance and public policy.

In one stream of research, we focus on the social dynamics that allow followers to be mobilized by leadership and the processes that determine followers’ motivations to exert effort on behalf of a group. Our research supports the claim that leaders’ capacity to energize followers flows from their management of a shared sense of social identity (as “us”). Our research has also found that followers’ identification with a common purpose affects when and why they are engaged and motivated to contribute to shared goals.

In a second stream of research, we address broader social-political forms of leadership and governance. Here we examine the potential and limitations of different forms of leadership and modes of governance, including “nudging” and persuasion-based information campaigns. We also focus on when and why leaders are motivated to use different forms of leadership as well as the consequences of these for follower behaviour. Our research indicates that forms of leadership that constrain followers’ autonomy may be effective in the short run, but may backfire and induce reactance  in the long run.