Impact Factor 2.129 | CiteScore 2.40
More on impact ›

Systematic Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01938

The role of leadership in a digitalized world: a review

  • 1Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy

Digital technology has changed organizations in an irreversible way. Like the movable type printing accelerated the evolution of our history, digitalization is shaping organizations, work environment and processes, creating new challenges leaders have to face. Social science scholars have been trying to understand this multifaceted phenomenon, however, findings have accumulated in a fragmented and dispersed fashion across different disciplines, and do not seem to converge within a clear picture. To overcome this shortcoming in the literature and foster clarity and alignment in the academic debate, this paper provides a comprehensive analysis of the contribution of studies on leadership and digitalization, identifying patterns of thought and findings across various social science disciplines, such as management and psychology. It clarifies key definitions and ideas, highlighting the main theories and findings drawn by scholars. Further, it identifies categories that group papers according to the macro level of analysis (e-leadership and organization, digital tools, ethical issues, and social movements), and micro level of analysis (the role of C-level managers, leader’s skills in the digital age, practices for leading virtual teams). Main findings show leaders are key actors in the development of a digital culture: they need to create relationships with multiple and scattered stakeholders, and focus on enabling collaborative processes in complex settings, while attending to pressing ethical concerns. With this research, we contribute to advance theoretically the debate about digital transformation and leadership, offering an extensive and systematic review, and identifying key future research opportunities to advance knowledge in this field.

Keywords: Leadership, digital transformation, e-Leadership, literature review, Digital technology

Received: 25 Feb 2019; Accepted: 07 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Cortellazzo, Bruni and Zampieri. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Laura Cortellazzo, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Venice, Italy,