Growing the Relational Mavericks : the Development of Entrepreneurial Leadership in the Church in Scotland

  • Richard Tiplady

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctorate of Business Administration (DBA)


Entrepreneurial leadership is a distinct form of leadership practices and behaviour,with a somewhat paradoxical focus on renewal in stagnating contexts and the seizing of opportunities in turbulent and rapidly-changing environments. Its development practices are similar to recognised approaches to leadership development, albeit with a stronger emphasis on social capital. It is a largely under researched topic in relation to the Christian church.

The research aim of this study was to develop a theoretical framework for the practice of entrepreneurial leadership development in the Church in Scotland. A constructivist grounded theory research methodology was used. Findings were produced from 13 interviews, with theoretical saturation being achieved around the concepts of traits and behaviours, and contextual hindrances and enablers.

The key theoretical contributions of this research include the research topic itself,which was hitherto unexplored, and the development of the core concept of a'relational maverick'. This concept provides an integrative approach to the understanding of entrepreneurial leadership development, combining psychological and leadership models and concepts of entrepreneurship with wider contextual factors. Other contributions include a focus on the breadth and diversity of needs driven just-in-time learning, the importance of social capital for drawing together a core team along with wider partnerships and financial resources, and a context based development approach that includes a detailed analysis of specific hindrances to and enablers of the emergence of entrepreneurial leadership in this setting. Specific developmental inputs have their place, but are more effective if set within a broader organisational framework that supports the development of entrepreneurial leadership traits and behaviours. In all these cases, the specific contribution is in the detail provided for what are sometimes rather fluid concepts.

The thesis also explores the connection between entrepreneurial leadership and notions of responsible and authentic leadership, the value of learning from mistakes and failure, and the negative effect of the Scottish 'tall poppy' culture. It also provides a methodological contribution, demonstrating the value of Grounded Theory for bringing fresh insights to heavily theorised topics.

This thesis has shown that entrepreneurial leaders can be described as mavericks,those who ask questions, see things from a different perspective, and challenge the system. But they are highly relational, drawing on deep reserves of social capital in order to enact their goals and vision. As such, they are 'relational mavericks' and can be 'grown' within an organisational ecosystem. Recommendations for ways of doing this are offered, and questions for future research are identified.
Date of Award2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorRona Beattie (Supervisor) & Afroditi Dalakoura (Supervisor)

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