Leadership as an elite field: Scottish banking leaders and the crisis of 2007-2009

Ron Kerr*, Sarah Robinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper addresses the question of the apparent auto-destructive behaviour of the leaders of the Scottish banks in the period 2005-2008. We apply Bourdieu's concepts of field, habitus and capital to a corpus of textual sources to identify how leaders of these organisations competed with each other for leadership capital. We therefore show, through analysis of a series of historically situated crises, how competition between senior banking leaders for positions of domination within the field of elite banking in Scotland, the UK and globally, eventually contributed to the destruction of the banks themselves as independent institutions. We believe that this Bourdieusian approach to leader-leader relations can offer some explanation of the apparently 'irrational' behaviours of the banking leaders in the economic crisis of 2005-2008.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-173
Number of pages23
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • leadership
  • elite
  • field
  • symbolic capital
  • habitus
  • Scottish bankers


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