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Dual leadership in a hospital practice

Bettina Ravnborg Thude (Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark)
Svend Erik Thomsen (Department of Leadership and Corporate Strategy, University of Southern Denmark, Slagelse, Denmark)
Egon Stenager (Institute of Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Aabenraa, Denmark)
Erik Hollnagel (Institute of Regional Health Research, University of Southern Denmark, Middelfart, Denmark)

Leadership in Health Services

ISSN: 1751-1879

Article publication date: 6 February 2017




Despite the practice of dual leadership in many organizations, there is relatively little research on the topic. Dual leadership means two leaders share the leadership task and are held jointly accountable for the results of the unit. To better understand how dual leadership works, this study aims to analyse three different dual leadership pairs at a Danish hospital. Furthermore, this study develops a tool to characterize dual leadership teams from each other.


This is a qualitative study using semi-structured interviews. Six leaders were interviewed to clarify how dual leadership works in a hospital context. All interviews were transcribed and coded. During coding, focus was on the nine principles found in the literature and another principle was found by looking at the themes that were generic for all six interviews.


Results indicate that power balance, personal relations and decision processes are important factors for creating efficient dual leaderships. The study develops a categorizing tool to use for further research or for organizations, to describe and analyse dual leaderships.


The study describes dual leadership in the hospital context and develops a categorizing tool for being able to distinguish dual leadership teams from each other. It is important to reveal if there are any indicators that can be used for optimising dual leadership teams in the health-care sector and in other organisations.



Thude, B.R., Thomsen, S.E., Stenager, E. and Hollnagel, E. (2017), "Dual leadership in a hospital practice", Leadership in Health Services, Vol. 30 No. 1, pp. 101-112.



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