The 20th International Studying Leadership Conference

This year's conference will be hosted by the University of Sussex Business School, in the city of Brighton and Hove.

Leadership and the future of humanity

murmeration of starlings over the old, West Pier at sunset

Sunday 11 - Tuesday 13 December 2022

Venue: Hilton Brighton Metropole Hotel, Kings Road, Brighton, BN1 2FU, United Kingdom.

Conference organisers: Professor Dennis Tourish and Dr Zahira Jaser, Department of Management at the University of Sussex Business School, UK.

Conference Programme

Explore the programme for the 20th International Studying Leadership Conference on 'Leadership and the Future of Humanity.'

Please note that the Call for Papers and Registration are now closed.

'Leadership and the future of humanity'

Our world is beset by serious problems and challenges – climate change, the developing technological revolution at work, growing social inequality, sustainability, racism, violence against women and more. Populist leadership has soared in many countries, including the USA, Hungary, Poland and India. Meanwhile, the recent Covid pandemic underscored the fragility of our economic institutions and health systems.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has brought war back once more to the European continent, and the importance of leadership to the fore. What is the role of the individual in history? How does dictatorial leadership embed itself within a vast country, and what leadership approaches are needed to resist it?

Examples of apparently successful leadership exist - see Suze Wilson (2020), for one example in the case of Covid. But we need to develop a better understanding of what works and what hinders organisations, communities and countries from developing better models of leadership more widely.

It remains noticeable that most leadership research has little to say about these issues. Rather, it remains preoccupied by relatively small-scale questions, usually addressed by survey methods that tend to reaffirm rather than challenge extant theorising. As Mats Alvesson and Dan Karreman (2016) have mischievously suggested: ‘Sometimes one even gets the impression that leadership “as such” – practices, interactions, relations – is of less interest for researchers than questionnaire filling behaviour.

In keeping with its traditions, this conference aspires to do better. We seek papers that ask big questions about important issues. We conceive these problems broadly, and not just in terms of business organisations. Submissions that address leadership in politics, the issue of climate change, the growth of social inequality and other significant global issues are particularly welcome. Dominant leadership theories (transformational, authentic, servant and others) seem pitifully inadequate in terms of addressing the problems that humanity faces.  We welcome papers that outline new ways of theorising about leadership and that challenge mainstream approaches. The journal Leadershipwith which this conference is closely associated, increasingly publishes papers with varied formats and novel methodologies. This conference also welcomes imaginative approaches and innovative methods.

We, therefore, accept submissions that connect in multiple forms to the conference theme of Leadership for the Future of Humanity. In particular, we welcome submissions that address the following topics:

-  Critiques of populist, authoritarian, dictatorial leadership;

-  Examples of leadership that successfully addresses the human aspects of our society and organisations;

-  Theorisations of leadership that address the fundamental problems facing our planet (from racism to climate change);

-  Ethics and leadership;

-  Reflexive leadership;

-  Methodological challenges of studying leadership and followership; 

Whilst we encourage submissions linked to the conference theme, we will also welcome abstracts on any theme linked to research on leadership and allied fields.

We accept theoretical papers, empirical papers and methodological papers that explore leadership from a variety of perspectives, voices, and contextual backgrounds. Our selection process will ensure inclusivity, diversity and plurality. Proposed papers will be reviewed by the conference organisers and invited individuals prominently associated with the journal Leadership. In addition, a Special Issue of Leadership will be produced, drawn from submissions to the conference.

Note to PhD Students: Due to generous donations, the organisers are able to waive conference fees for a small number of PhD students, on a needs basis. If you wish to apply, please provide a brief statement explaining how you might meet this criteria, alongside your abstract submission below.

  • Submissions

    Please note that submissions are now closed.

    Authors of accepted abstracts will be required to prepare a 10-15 minute oral presentation. 

    Explore the conference programme.

  • Location and venue

    Brighton is located on England's south coast in the county of East Sussex. It’s under an hour by rail from London, 40 minutes by road from the M25, 30 minutes from London Gatwick Airport and 90 minutes from London Heathrow. And when you get here, everything is a 10-minute stroll away!

    ​With sun, sea, great places to eat and an array of independent shops, cafes and bars, Brighton is a lively, cosmopolitan seaside city famous for its quirky charm.

    The conference will be held in the lovely Brighton Hilton Metropole Hotel. This faces the seafront, with access to Brighton City Centre. It contains an indoor pool and fitness centre.

    Getting to Brighton

    ​From Gatwick airport - take the train (located in the South Terminal). The journey takes between 25 and 40 minutes depending on the route. Trains run approximately every 15 minutes during the day, with a less frequent service operating at other times.

    To find out train times, and to book a ticket visit: National Rail

    From central London - Multiple stations in London have trains serving Brighton, these include London Victoria, Blackfriars and London Bridge. Journeys take approximately one hour depending on the route. Tickets can be purchased online or at any London national rail station.

  • Accommodation

    VisitBrighton is the official accommodation booking provider for the Conference, and through the dedicated booking site delegates can access specially negotiated accommodation rates for a selection of hotels and guesthouses. These rooms and rates are held especially for you so don’t miss out. Please note that rates quoted are inclusive of breakfast and VAT unless otherwise stated. Bookings can be made online.

    If you have any queries relating to accommodation or require further assistance please either call the Accommodation Bureau on +44 1273 292626 or email

    Alternatively, you can book a room at the conference venue - the Hilton Brighton Metropole - up to 6 weeks prior to arrival. Rates start from £138.00 Inc. VAT for a standard double bedroom (single occupancy). 


    The following hostels are located in the centre of Brighton with easy access to the conference venue:

  • Conference Fees


    Early bird registration:          

    12 September 2022 – 3 October 2022

    Standard registration:

    4 October 2022 – 9 November 2022

    PhD Student


    Academic & All Others



    If you wish to attend the conference in a general attendance capacity (without submitting a paper), please note that you are welcome to register according to the above categories. The prices for general attendance remain the same as the above and include the conference dinner. Kindly note that hotel accommodation is not included in the conference fees.

    Registration is now closed.

Keynote Speakers

We are delighted to announce our keynote speakers.

A man wearing a light jacket and blue shirt, smilingProfessor Mats Alvesson 
Lund University 
Professor of Organizational Studies

Professor Alvesson's current research projects focus on leadership, functional stupidity in organizations and experiences of bureaucracy and managerial work in universities. His current research interests include critical theory, gender, power, management of professional service (knowledge intensive) organizations, leadership, identity, organizational image, organizational culture and symbolism, qualitative methods and philosophy of science.

a man with dark hair and glasses wearing a suitDr Thomas Fischer 
Institute of Management, Geneva School of Economics and Management
Assistant Professor of Responsible Leadership

Thomas’ work challenges common advice to lead authentically, ethically, with a transformational style.  Instead, he argues that leadership needs to face the intricacies of reality by considering multiple, sometimes diverging professional demands. He also examines how CEOs and CFOs strategically adapt their public communication to partially diverging demands from different owners and how people talk about (their) leadership.

A lady with curly hair  a white top and dark jacket, smilingProfessor Donna Ladkin
Birmingham Business School, University of Birmingham
Professor of Inclusive Leadership 

Dr Donna Ladkin is an internationally recognized leadership and ethics scholar whose philosophically-informed publications explore aesthetic, ethical and embodied aspects of organizing and leading. Her current research focuses on examining the racial assumptions which underpin traditional leadership perspectives.

a lady with blonde hair wearing a purple top and scarf, smilingDr Suze Wilson 
School of Management, Massey University, University of New Zealand
Senior Lecturer in Management

 Dr Suze Wilson's research examines why and how it has become normalized in recent decades to equate 'leadership' with grandiose expectations of 'transformation', 'vision', and 'charisma'. She argues that these ideas actually create undesirable pressures on leaders, grant them excessive powers, and rely on the problematic assumption that 'followers' are inherently inadequate. 

Key Dates

Monday 5 September - Submissions close 

Monday 12 September - Notification of decision on submissions & Early Bird Registration opens

Monday 3 October – Early Bird Registration ends

Tuesday 4 October - Standard Registration opens

Wednesday 9 November – Standard Registration closes

Sunday 11 December – Arrival and reception

Monday 12 December – 9.00-5.30 conference 

Tuesday 13 December – 9.30-5.00 conference 

There will be a conference dinner at the Conference venue on 12th December. The cost of this is included in the conference fee.

Introducing the conference team

Conference organisers:

Dennis Tourish, Professor of Leadership and Organization Studies, University of Sussex Business School. Email:

Zahira Jaser, Assistant Professor, University of Sussex Business School. Email:

Conference Manager: 

Aristea Markantoni, Research Engagement and Events Officer. Email: