Constructing the GFC: Australian banking leaders during the financial ‘crisis’

Helena Liu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Mainstream accounts of the global financial crisis (GFC) have treated the ‘crisis’ as fixed and given with the role of leadership as paramount. Through the intertextual reading of media texts and interviews with banking leaders, this article in contrast demonstrates the dynamic, discursively constructed nature of leadership during the GFC. Despite the relative buoyancy of the local economy and strong performance of the major banks in Australia, the findings show how some banking chief executive officers were able to exploit the GFC by co-constructing with the media vivid, compelling narratives of their leadership in delivering their banks from ‘crisis’. Although banking leaders conveyed via interviews an intractable, unpredictable view of the crisis and their adoption of more reactive approaches to the GFC, this study suggests that the media played a powerful role in enforcing a separation between ‘front stage’ and ‘back stage’ leadership performances. The article concludes that the vivid metaphors of crisis leadership lauded in the media served to reinforce the romance of leadership and potentially elide considerations of banking reform in the aftermath of the GFC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)424-450
Number of pages27
Issue number4
Early online date6 May 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


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