PhD defense: Irmelin Drake

PhD Defense

17 October 2014 22:19

(updated: 7 March 2016 22:21)

PhD defense: Irmelin Drake

On Friday 31 October 2015 Irmelin Drake will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend her thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture
«Give an introduction to the development of management discipline and research. Discuss how stakeholder theory can contribute to the management discipline. Comment in particular the benefits and challenges of stakeholder theory creates for the management discipline».

Time of the trial lecture

11:15 Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Centre, NHH

Title of the thesis

«Myriad of voices or a multi-voiced chorus? An empirical study of the subjective perceptions of leadership and the leadership context by internal stakeholders in a corporation».


In this empirical study Irmelin Drake explores how individual stakeholders in a corporation think and problematize around leadership and how they construct their leadership experiences. Her assumption is that perceptions of leadership are in the eyes of the beholder, and thus that there may by a myriad of voices regarding management and leadership issues within the same leadership context. At the same time, there is reason to assume that individuals who hold similar functional roles/positions and work in the same organizational unit, will develop similar leadership perceptions and constructions. In that case, leadership perceptions, from a corporate perspective, may fit better to the metaphor of a multi-voiced chorus.

Based on in-depth interviews with 24 respondents representing five internal stakeholder groups and three organizations within a corporation, the data was analysed in search of shared meanings and common themes. Through phenomenological analyses, eleven leadership themes and five leadership frames were derived, covering themes such as decision making, delegation and work-life balance.

The dissertation provides a rich description of each leadership theme, and on how the respondents reflect around problems, causes and opportunities relating to them. An important and interesting finding from the study is that perceptions and causal reflections around specific leadership themes point to a much broader set of loki than just individual managers and leaders, such as the organizational culture, structures and systems, collectives of leaders, dyads between leaders and followers and so forth. This indicates that it would be wise to focus on leadership themes as systemic and contextual phenomena, and that individual stakeholders may provide unique and important information with regards to these, based on their personal experiences and unique location within the leadership context. At the same time, the results show that both functional role and organizational affiliation seem to impact individuals´ perceptions, indicating that strategic leaders would benefit from collecting and systematizing leadership perceptions based on a selection of individuals from a broad spectre of functional stakeholder groups and organizational units.

Time and place for the defense

13:15 in Kristian Gerhard Jebsen Centre, NHH

Members of the evaluation committee

Chair: Professor Inger G. Stensaker NHH Norwegian School of Economics
Professor Flemming Poulfeldt, Copenhagen Business School
Professor Grete Wennes, Sør-Trøndelag University College

Supervising committee

Professor Bjarne Espedal, principal supervisor, NHH Norwegian School of Economics

The trial lecture and thesis defense will be open to the public. Both will be held in Norwegian.