Conceptualisation of management and leadership

Hester Nienaber (University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, South Africa)

Management Decision

ISSN: 0025-1747

Publication date: 1 June 2010



The divide in the conceptualisation of the terms “management” and “leadership” is not clear. The purpose of this paper is to explore the concepts of management and leadership.


The approach of the study followed a synthesis review and also applied content analysis, identifying the tasks constituting management and leadership respectively.


The findings of the literature review demonstrated that the concepts of management and leadership are intertwined. The word “management” has French and Italian roots, while the word “leadership” has Greek and Latin roots. Essentially, though, these words are synonymous. All of the tasks fall within the boundaries of management, while leadership tasks overlap with management. Unlike management, leadership has no distinct task that falls exclusively within its boundary.

Practical implications

Implications of the findings of the study include debate regarding how practising managers can know what is expected of them if the literature is unclear on the distinction between these concepts, and playing down the demonstrated need and relevance of management.


This paper is original as no previous work on management and leadership has attempted to compare the content of these concepts.



Nienaber, H. (2010), "Conceptualisation of management and leadership", Management Decision, Vol. 48 No. 5, pp. 661-675.

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