Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Jay A. Conger

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© 2014 Alexandra J. Ruark


Shared leadership is one of the newest leadership frameworks to date, and it’s currently taking the organizational world by storm. By analyzing previous leadership models and theories, it is clear that shared leadership evolved from these prior ideas. Yet, shared leadership also differs significantly enough that there is much left to be explored and researched on the topic. Due to the fact that shared leadership research is still in early stages, we have very few examples to study in real life settings. Some organizations have adopted shared leadership as their primary leadership structure throughout the entire company, though. W.L. Gore is a completely flat company that does not have bosses, titles, direct reports, or anything that resembles most corporations around the world. The well-known self-help group, Alcoholics Anonymous, also functions using a shared leadership model. However, shared leadership is still mostly a mystery. Even with some examples of the model available for study, there has been little research done on the actual interactions between team members that create a successful shared leadership structure. The limited knowledge that we currently have in relation to shared leadership—its origins, its framework, its application, its barriers, its future—is presented in the following pages.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.