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On “followers” and the inability to define

Jon Aarum Andersen (School of Business, Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 April 2019

Issue publication date: 1 April 2019




Scholars’ ability to do research based on the notions of “follower” and “followership” is questioned when studying formal leadership in organizations. The paper aims to discuss this issue.


Critical comments are presented on the usefulness of the notions of followers and followership.


There are no evidence that followership exists other than some scholars’ perception of something that they have been unable to define. The conclusion is that the inability to define these notions is tantamount to the inability to research them.

Research limitations/implications

The literature review contains no new empirical data.


The paper stresses that study objects which are not theoretically and empirically defined cannot be investigated.



Andersen, J.A. (2019), "On “followers” and the inability to define", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 40 No. 2, pp. 274-284.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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