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Dr Jamie Gloor

Business School academic wins £1m grant for research project into ‘non-traditional leadership’

A University of Exeter Business School academic is set to embark on a five-year research project exploring new ideas about creating diversity in leadership after winning a £1 million grant.

Dr Jamie Gloor, a Senior Lecturer in Management at the University of Exeter Business School and a Digital Society Fellow at the University of Zurich, has been awarded a total of 1,173,853 Swiss francs from the Swiss National Science Foundation for the project, in which Dr Gloor and two PhD students will produce a series of studies examining “non-traditional paths towards non-traditional leadership”.

The research project, entitled “Playing the Game Relieves ‘More of the Same’?”, takes as its starting point the lack of diversity among leaders of big organisations, and the traditional ways of training, hiring and promoting leaders that perpetuate this cycle.

“The idea is that the top levels of leadership are more homogenous than we would like,” said Dr Gloor, “and the traditional ways of training, hiring, and promoting leaders have often been within people’s personal networks, so who they went to university with, who they work with and who they know.

“Even when evaluating previously unknown persons, people tend to have more positive biases towards those who are more similar to them than the negative biases towards people who are less like them, further reinforcing this homogeneity.”

The project will explore and compare various kinds of formal and informal networking processes as pathways towards promoting more diverse networks and leaders in terms of gender, race, etc.

In a series of quantitative studies employing experimental, archival, and real-time big data collections, the interdisciplinary research team will test these ideas and more.

Dr Gloor said: "As our workforce grows more diverse than ever, and diverse leaders prove they are equipped to deal with modern leadership challenges (eg female leaders prevented more COVID-19 deaths than male leaders), it's about time that we better understood the pathways to promote more of these high potentials into top leadership roles.”

“That is, while the more formal, traditional paths may promote more traditional leaders, newer, more informal approaches may better facilitate leadership roles for these more diverse talents."

Dr Gloor will begin the project in January 2021.

Date: 14 September 2020