Niche construction and the evolution of leadership

B.R. Spisak, M. O'Brien, N. Nicholson, M. van Vugt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We use the concept of niche construction - the process whereby individuals, through their activities, interactions, and choices, modify their own and each other's environments - as an example of how biological evolution and cultural evolution interacted to form an integrative foundation of modern organizational leadership. Resulting adaptations are formal structures that facilitate coordination of large, postagrarian organizational networks. We provide three propositions explaining how leadership processes evolve over time within and between organizations in order to solve specific coordination problems. We highlight the balancing act between self-interests and group interests in organizations and show how leadership must regulate this tension to maintain organizational fitness. We conclude with predictions about the future evolution of leadership in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-306
JournalAcademy of Management Review
Issue number2
Early online date29 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

vol. 40 no. 2 291-306


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