Corresponding Author

Shirin Karbalaei Ali


Purpose: The purpose of this study is to identify research gaps and provide an integrative and comprehensive review related to implicit leadership theory (ILTs) and implicit followership theory (IFTs) in the last five years.

Design/ methodology/ approach: Using a qualitative systematic review and the content analysis method, we analyzed, summarized, and categorized articles’ recommendations to provide a comprehensive perspective of research gaps and directions for future studies.

Findings: Through analyzing 45 articles published in 2016-2021, firstly, we clarified the distinction between empirical and theoretical articles. In addition, the results of ILTs and IFTs research gaps were reported in four main categories including antecedents, consequences, measurement development, and content and structure of ILTs and IFTs. Finally, we offered many suggestions and directions for future research based on the research gaps we identified.

Originality/ value: the growing interest in ILTs and IFTs as two of the most absorbing topics in leadership literature has led to the accumulation and dispersal of knowledge. This, in turn, prevents scholars to obtain a holistic and clear approach to theory development and related research gaps. To address the lack of coherence and clarity about ILTs and IFTs research gaps, we provide an integrative and comprehensive review of related research gaps in order to create a framework for future studies.