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Title: To boldly go : how do women in senior positions in the Church of England construe their leadership?
Author: Rees, Diane
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis contains the results of two empirical studies focusing on the ministry and leadership of women in the Church of England. Two key events, one in 1992 and the other in 2012, almost exactly twenty years apart, provide the framework and context in which these studies take place. The thesis helps to explain why so few women apply for senior positions in the Church of England. The first study, explores how women incumbents in a diocese make sense of their particular roles and ministries. The focus is initially on women incumbents, as the senior leaders for the church emerge from this group. This Ministry Focused Study (MFS) begins not only to address the issue itself but also acts as a pilot study. The second and substantive Research Based Thesis (RBT) uses these insights to investigate the primary question of the thesis: How do women in senior positions in the Church of England construe their leadership? Fourteen women (out of 15) who were in some of the most senior positions in the Church of England - Cathedral Deans, Archdeacons and Theological College Principals - took part in the research project. The central argument is that effective leadership for these women consists of three core dimensions: The Person of the leader - this includes the connections between person and role, especially being able to ‘be yourself’ as a leader, as well as managing the role in the public and private spheres. The Process of leadership - summarised as ‘agency enhanced by communion’. The emphasis here is having the ability to bring about change and make things happen; fundamental to this is being a relational leader who seeks to develop interactions based on integrity and trust. The Context in which leadership takes place - involves a deep understanding and engagement with the structures of the church, within which the leadership role is experienced and exercised. Both studies employ a method of interviewing called Repertory Grids, which derive from a theory of personality proposed by George Kelly known as Personal Construct Psychology (PCP). From the standpoint of those who are interviewed, it enables the discovery of some of the key issues and perspectives, as well as giving insight into both the relative importance of those issues and how those key perspectives interact with each other. PCP has proved useful in a variety of contexts, including education, social science (Cohen et al., 2000) and business research (Stewart and Stewart, 1980); being used with individuals, groups or organisations to explore a range of issues from beliefs, feelings and attitudes of individuals to understanding organisational transitions and corporate values (Fransella, 2003). Until now, however, it has not been employed in a major empirical study in theology and ministry. Although there has been much written about women in ministry, and to a lesser extent women in church leadership, over the last decade or so, relatively little of this has been based on primary data such as that which these two research studies have been able to generate. This thesis comes at a significant point in the history of the Church of England1 as it continues to discover a way forward following the rejection, by General Synod in November 2012, of proposed legislation, which would have allowed women to become bishops. Within this context, the thesis explores how these women in senior positions make sense of their leadership roles, what enables them in their roles and asks whether women leaders in the church are able, ‘to boldly go ...
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.The.Min.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available