More Industries Are Studying Leadership Than You Realize. Is Yours?

Many people are fascinated by the study of leadership. Research into this is important because it can help us build better leaders. We can take this knowledge and help give you important insights that can directly impact your world and make you a better leader.

There are a lot of different industries that recognize this fact and pursue their own studies. Including, perhaps, yours. We decided to use Web of Science, where you can conduct comprehensive citation searches, to see just how expansive leadership research really is. Here are some stats that may interest you, especially if you see your own field in here.

Based on 118,053 leadership papers recorded on Web of Science:

  • 58 percent of them are from the healthcare/medicine field
  • 81 percent are from the science field, 20.03 percent are from the social science field
  • 19 percent are from the management /applied psychology field
  • Ultimately, the above three constitute more than 80 percent of the leadership publications.

Under the broader categories such as science and social science, attentions were also drawn from specific fields. These fields were:

  • Public Policy and Law (11.78 percent)
  • Political Science/History (11.00 percent)
  • Education (10.30 percent)
  • Business (8.22 percent)
  • Psychology (7.79 percent)
  • Engineering (7.30 percent)
  • Applied Fields/Other (5.86 percent)
  • Humanities (4.93 percent)
  • Agriculture (2.45 percent) [1].

The takeaway from all these numbers:  Leadership is indeed a common interest to different industries.

Additionally, we discovered a historical trend that around 70 percent of leadership articles were published after 2008. We further investigated how this change unfolds within each area.

Here are some more numbers for you to scan. Perhaps they will help you spark a realization about your own field.

  • By dividing the publications into two categories labeled “Before 2007” and “After 2008,” we found that science was the leading industry (28.08 percent) for leadership research before 2007.
  • After 2008, the percentage of leadership articles published within the science realm decreased by 9.28 percent.
  • Similarly, psychology and agriculture were less active in publishing leadership articles after 2008 (3.90 percent and 2.01 percent decreases, respectively).
  • On the other hand, management/applied psychology, public policy and law, and education have grown their interests in studying leadership by 2.98 percent, 2.32 percent and 3.47 percent respectively since 2008.
  • The increase of research attention from management/applied psychology since 2008 promoted the field to be the third highest dominant area of leadership research.

So, what have we learned from all this? While some fields wax and others wane, the percentages of published articles within each area have become more dispersed after 2008. That is, different industries seem to develop an equal amount of attention/interests in studying leadership, which in turn reinforces the broad nature of the study of leadership.

Foot Note 1: The summation of the percentages might exceed one hundred because an article can be classified into multiple categories.

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Here at Lead Read Today, we endeavor to take an objective (rational, scientific) approach to analyzing leaders and leadership. All opinion pieces will be reviewed for appropriateness, and the opinions shared are solely of the author and not representative of The Ohio State University or any of its affiliates.