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Dynamic fields of leadership: a study of underlying social, cultural and collective influences

Congram, Susan 2013. Dynamic fields of leadership: a study of underlying social, cultural and collective influences. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis investigates deeper influences that contribute to the way organisational leadership is practiced, taking a social, cultural and collective point of view. Three different theoretical perspectives are drawn on: the work of Kurt Lewin and field theory shows that underlying forces exist, describing organising principles that are not under the control of human intention; the work of Carl Jung and the collective unconscious explains leadership at a deep archetypal level; the ideas of Pierre Bourdieu help to explain how leadership is established and maintained through social interaction and social fields—symbolic power, habitus and doxa. A narrative methodology provided the framework for interviewing participants on their leadership experiences. Two research groups consisted of (A) 17 corporate leaders, comprising 3 men and 14 women, (B) 6 organisational consultants, comprising 5 men and 1 woman. A set of questions based on the three theoretical perspectives, was used to analyse the data. A difference between leadership thinking and leadership in practice was found. Descriptions of leadership were individualistic and direction-giving, compared to narratives of leadership experiences which revealed relational, inclusive and collaborative leadership practices. A predominance of role model learning was also found. The concept of eclipsing is used to describe how relational, inclusive and collaborative practices are overshadowed by conventional leadership thinking. Field theory shows how dynamic fields influence eclipsing behaviour beneath the surface of intentional action. A Jungian perspective explains eclipsing as a hidden compensatory process within the dyadic relationship of the masculine and the feminine. Bourdieuian ideas explain how conventional leadership thinking is in the habitus of social interaction, and how symbolic power of leaders is a dynamic force in organisational systems. This thesis adds to the debate on ‘where leadership is situated’, offering new insight to conventional leadership theory, and advances thinking in relational and distributed leadership.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 10 Jan 2018 00:07

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