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The Call to Lead (Advert Reference: RDF19/BL/LHRM/SINNICKS)

  • Full or part time
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, January 25, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Recent work in leadership/followership and organisation studies has demonstrated the importance of shared normative commitments to leadership processes. Rather than the value-independent assumptions of transactional, transformational and authentic leadership, research in such areas as ‘wise leadership’, ‘servant leadership’, and ‘calling’, suggests that leadership is enhanced where normative commitments are grounded in a wider moral community. A fruitful epistemological context for exploring the pre-requisites for such shared commitments regards the rationalities inherent in vocationally oriented organizations as being both tradition-constitutive and tradition constituting. Such contexts provide common language, purpose and evaluative criteria and in their absence, leaders’ abilities to influence followers may depend on transactional self-interest or career–oriented corporate identification.

Drawing on the insights generated by this approach, theoretical and empirical research at Northumbria University has advanced understanding of the relationship between leaders’ understanding of organisational purposes and their decision-making, between leaders’ commitment to the internal goods of organizational practices and their virtues, and to the relationship between meaningful work and organizational commitment. This is consistent with a large body of empirical research that has found strong relationships between such variables as profitability, job satisfaction, organizational citizenship behaviours and positive perception of leaders’ virtues.

This research project aims to advance this work through an empirical enquiry into the differences that shared normative commitments make to leadership processes in organizations. In contrast to the dominant approach of surveying across contexts or within particular organisations, this research aims to compare leadership processes in ostensibly similar organisations but with different normative commitments (e.g. Médecins Sans Frontières and the Red Crescent). Proposals should specify an appropriate theoretical framework, indicate empirical context and outline research methods.

Eligibility and How to Apply:

Please note eligibility requirement:

• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF19/BL/LHRM/SINNICKS) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: Friday 25 January 2019
Start Date: 1 October 2019

Northumbria University is an equal opportunities provider and in welcoming applications for studentships from all sectors of the community we strongly encourage applications from women and under-represented groups.

Funding Notes

The studentship is available to Students Worldwide, and covers full fees and a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2018/19, this is £14,777 pa).


Beadle, R. (2019). “Work, Meaning and Virtue,” In Yeoman, R., Bailey, K., Madden, A and Thompson, M. (Eds.) Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pp 73-87.

Beadle, R. (2016). “Individual Virtues and Organisational Virtues,” In Sison, A & Akrivou, K (Eds.) The Challenges of Capitalism for Virtue Ethics and the Common Good. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar. Pp 166-184

Beadle, R. (2013). “Managerial Work in a practice-embodying institution – The role of calling, the virtue of constancy,” Journal of Business Ethics 113: 4, 679-690

Moore, G; R. Beadle and A. Rowlands. (2014). “Catholic Social Teaching and the Firm. Crowding in Virtue: a MacIntyrean Approach to Business Ethics,” American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly 88: 4, 779-805
Sinnicks, M. (2018). “The Just World Fallacy as a Challenge to the Business-As-Community Thesis,” Business & Society.
Sinnicks, M. (2018). “Leadership After Virtue: MacIntyre’s Critique of Management Reconsidered,” Journal of Business Ethics 147(4): 735-746

Sinnicks, M. (2017). “Moral Education at Work: On the Scope of MacIntyre’s Concept of a Practice,” Journal of Business Ethics

Sinnicks, M. (2014). “Practices, Governance, Politics,” Business Ethics Quarterly 24(2): 229-249

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