Authentic leadership theory: The case for and against

William L Gardner*, Elizabeth P. Karam, Mats Alvesson, Katja Einola

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


Scholarly and practitioner interest in the topic of authentic leadership has grown dramatically over the past two decades. Running parallel to this interest, however, have been a number of concerns regarding the conceptual and methodological underpinnings for research on the construct. In this exchange of letters, the cases for and against the current authentic leadership theory are made. Through a dialogue, several areas of common ground are identified, as well as focal areas where the cases for and against the utility of authentic leadership theory for scholars and practitioners sharply diverge. Suggestions for future theorizing and research that reflect areas of common ground are advanced, along with divergent perspectives on how research on authenticity and leadership should proceed. Despite their differences, both author teams found the dialogue in itself to be a healthy process for theory development, and encourage constructive future dialogue on other areas where theoretical perspectives diverge.
Original languageEnglish
Article number101495
Peer-reviewed scientific journalThe Leadership Quarterly
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 07.02.2021
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article - refereed


  • 512 Business and Management
  • leadership
  • authenticity
  • theory development
  • authentic leadership

Areas of Strength and Areas of High Potential (AoS and AoHP)

  • AoS: Leading for growth and well-being


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