Dr Cecile Emery

Research Interests

Relational Leadership / Leader-Follower Relationship / Leader Differentiation / Leadership Emergence

Social Network Analysis (p* models, SAOM)


  • Academy of Management (AoM), Organizational Behaviour division
  • European Associate of Work & Organizational Psychology (EAWOP)
  • International Network for Social Network Analysis
  • Editorial Board Member of Human Relations

Contact Me



Journal articles

  • Carnabuci G, Emery C , Brinberg D. (2017) 'Emergent leadership structures in informal groups: A dynamic, cognitively informed network model'. INFORMS (Institute for Operations Research and Management Sciences) Organization Science,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    This paper advances novel theory and evidence on the emergence of informal leadership networks in groups that feature no formally designated leaders or authority hierarchies. Integrating insights from relational schema and network theory, we develop and empirically test a 3-step process model. The model’s first hypothesis is that people use a “linear-ordering schema” to process information about leadership relations. Taking this hypothesis as a premise, the second hypothesis argues that whenever an individual experiences a particular leadership attribution to be inconsistent with the linear-ordering schema, s/he will tend to reduce the ensuing cognitive inconsistency by modifying that leadership attribution. Finally, the third hypothesis builds on this inconsistency-reduction mechanism to derive implications about a set of network-structural features (asymmetry, a-cyclicity, transitivity, popularity, and inverse-popularity) that are predicted to endogenously emerge as a group’s informal leadership network evolves. We find broad support for our proposed theoretical model using a multi-method, multi-study approach combining experimental and empirical data. Our study contributes to the organizational literature by illuminating a socio-cognitive dynamics underpinning the evolution of informal leadership structures in groups where formal authority plays a limited role.

  • Rouchier J, Tubaro P, Emery C . (2014) 'Opinion transmission in organizations: an agent-based modeling approach'. Springer US Computational and Mathematical Organization Theory, 20 (3), pp. pp. 252-277.


    This paper builds a theoretical framework to detect the conditions under which social influence enables persistence of a shared opinion among members of an organization over time, despite membership turnover. It develops agent-based simulations of opinion evolution in an advice network, whereby opinion is defined in the broad sense of shared understandings on a matter that is relevant for an organization’s activities, and on which members have some degree of discretion. We combine a micro-level model of social influence that builds on the “relative agreement” approach of Deffuant et al. (J. Artif. Soc. Simul. 5:4, 2002), and a macro-level structure of interactions that includes a flow of joiners and leavers and allows for criteria of advice tie formation derived from, and grounded in, the empirical literature on intra-organizational networks. We provide computational evidence that persistence of opinions over time is possible in an organization with joiners and leavers, a result that depends on circumstances defined by mode of network tie formation (in particular, criteria for selection of advisors), individual attributes of agents (openness of newcomers to influence, as part of their socialization process), and time-related factors (turnover rate, which regulates the flow of entry and exit in the organization, and establishes a form of endogenous hierarchy based on length of stay). We explore the combined effects of these factors and discuss their implications.

  • Emery C , Calvard T, Pierce M. (2013) 'Leadership as an emergent group process: A social network study of personality and leadership'. SAGE Publications Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 16 (1), pp. pp. 28-45.


    A longitudinal study was conducted on the social network of a leaderless group to explore how Big Five personality traits affect leadership emergence, in the form of receiver ties (being nominated as a leader), sender ties (nominating others as leaders), and similarity effects (nominating similar/different others as leaders). Forty one students on a 3-month study abroad program participated in intensive group work, and their perceptions of emergent task- and relationship-oriented leadership within these groups were assessed three times across the life cycle of the group. Results indicated that individuals scoring higher on extraversion, openness to experience, and conscientiousness were nominated more as task- and relationship-oriented leaders, whereas those who were more agreeable were more likely to emerge as relationship-oriented leaders. In terms of emergent followership, group members who were more agreeable and neurotic (and less open to experience) were less likely to follow relationship-oriented leaders, whereas more conscientious individuals were more likely to follow task-oriented leaders. With respect to the effects of complementarity and similarity, both task- and relationship-oriented leader nominations were based on dissimilar levels of agreeableness between leaders and followers, whereas nominated relationship-based leaders tended to have similar levels of openness to experience to followers. Implications of these results are discussed.

  • Emery C . (2012) 'Uncovering the role of emotional abilities in leadership emergence. A longitudinal analysis of leadership networks'. Elsevier Social Networks, 34 (4), pp. pp. 429-437.


    The aim of this paper is to investigate how different emotional abilities affect the emergence of task and relationship leaders in a group of 41 students. To conduct this investigation, leadership is envisioned as a dynamic network of leadership perceptions. The emergence of leadership and the role played by emotional abilities in this process are analyzed using Stochastic Actor Oriented Models (SAOMs). The results suggest that emotional abilities play complementary roles in emergent leadership. Whereas the abilities to perceive and manage emotions facilitate the emergence of relationship leaders, the abilities to use and understand them facilitate the emergence of task leaders. Highlights ► Emotional intelligence and the emergence of relationship and task leadership. ► Leadership envisioned as a dynamic network of leadership perceptions. ► Longitudinal network analysis (SAOM). ► Abilities to perceive and manage emotions facilitate the emergence of relationship leaders. ► Abilities to use and understand emotions facilitate the emergence of task leaders. ► Leaders need emotional intelligence.

  • Emery C , Daniloski K, Hamby A. (2010) 'The Reciprocal Effects of Self-View as a Leader and Leadership Emergence'. SAGE Publications Small Group Research, 42 (2), pp. pp. 199-224.


    Although it is often assumed that an individual’s self-view as a leader has an impact on that individual’s emergence as a leader, there is currently no empirical evidence of this effect in the literature. Longitudinal social network analysis is used to study both the impact of an individual’s self-view as a leader on leadership emergence and how the process of leadership emergence influences an individual’s self-view as a leader over time. Results suggest a reciprocal process: An individual’s self-view as a leader influences the number of leadership nominations an individual receives over time and the number of leadership nominations received over time influences an individual’s self-view as a leader.

Conference papers

  • Emery C , Carnabuci G, Brinberg D. (2011) 'Relational schemas to investigate the process of leadership emergence'. Academy of Management Academy of Management Proceedings, Academy of Management Meeting 2011 (1), pp. pp. 1-6.


    Distancing itself from the traditional focus of leadership research on the behaviors and traits characteristic of “leaders,” the paper argues that leaders emerge out of a process of social construction. Drawing from relational schema theory, it is argued that group members form leadership perceptions that conform to a limited set of shared “hierarchical” relational schemas. Accordingly, whenever the leadership perceptions of an individual do not conform (i.e., they are hierarchically inconsistent) with those of other group members, he/she is induced to reduce such inconsistencies by aligning his/her own leadership perceptions. The paper tests this argument using a multi-method, multi-study approach. Study 1 follows the process of leadership emergence within a newly formed social group, showing how hierarchical relational schemas are reflected in the evolving network of leadership choices within the group. Study 2 uses a vignette experiment to directly test how hierarchical relational schemas affect people’s leadership perceptions.

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