How is leadership cultivated between principal investigators and research team members? Evidence from funded research projects in the UK

Omar Abou Hamdan, Viviana Meschitti, Muhammad Burhan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This paper investigates leadership dynamics in research teams. It studies how principal investigators (PIs) and team members cultivate their relationship through the lens of leader-member exchange theory (LMX). Thirty-one in-depth interviews with both PIs and team members across 15 externally funded teams in the UK are analysed. The findings show that these relationships can be characterised along four influential dimensions: positional layer; informal layer; and the newly identified political layer and life domain. These layers show how PIs balance between formal and informal power structures, and, more broadly, how leadership dynamics go beyond the specific context in which a team is situated and members work. The notion constructing working relationships is proposed to stress on the need for both PIs and members to engage in a process of balancing potential tensions. Thus, the paper provides PIs with insights into the nature of leadership within a research team and recommendations regarding team design.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-740
Number of pages15
JournalHigher Education Quarterly
Volume76
Issue number4
Early online date5 Jul 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022

Bibliographical note

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited

Keywords

  • leader-member exchange (LMX)
  • leadership
  • political empowerment
  • principal investigator (PI)
  • research teams

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

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