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Title: Meaningful leadership : exploring dilemmas and potentials in practice development
Author: Uldall, Bjorn
ISNI:       0000 0004 2735 2970
Awarding Body: University of the West of England, Bristol
Current Institution: University of the West of England, Bristol
Date of Award: 2012
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My thesis provides an account of the 1st and 2nd person action research I have undertaken in the context of leading three separate co-inquiry groups with Danish business leaders inquiring into the question: How can I better develop meaningful leadership practice with others? In the thesis, I recount a series of episodes taking place in the third co-inquiry group in an experiential narrative voice to illustrate how our 2nd person practical knowing of meaningful leading and learning develop in the messy complex reality of ongoing co-construction of our mutual practices. With this outset, I go on to track and reflect upon, how, over time and across different contexts, my own 1 st person understanding and practice have been challenged and changed with respect to different lines of inquiry and development. These include for example, how I construct experiences as meaningful in practice: I show how I shift from trying to 'implement' in my practice preconceived ideological, generalized, intellectual, and static ideas of the meaningful towards increasingly constructing experiences of meaningful practice in a more contextualized, embodied, relational, and emergent fashion. Other lines of inquiry concerns my attempts deal with authority, power, and leadership in less unilateral, role-constricted, static ways in favour of more mutual, eo- constructed, distributed and dynamic patterns. With respect to how I understand and approach practice learning, my thesis illustrate my journey of moving from a largely instrumental, individualized, controlled and bounded approach towards a more social constructionist understanding and practice, where learning approaches a quality of 'reflexive relational being' rather than 'directive individualized doing'. With the unique accounts of 1 st and 2nd person practical knowing I have developed, I seek to offer a (3rd person) contribution to knowledge in the context of what I see as a currently emerging new discourse of leadership. Towards this end, I further seek to crystallise a developing personal 'living theory in the experimental form of a set of 'guiding poetics'. I connect and discuss these contributions in relation to e.g. constructive developmentalist theories of post-conventional action- logics and meaning making; social constructivist thinking; theories of complex responsive processes; and theories on social fields of consciousness. I also discuss how much of the current academic and popular writings on spirituality and leadership which inspired me at the outset of the research, I now consider to be restrictive and corruptive by what I see as its embedding in conventional modernist discourse. Following the idea that 'style is theory', I attempt with this thesis to draw attention to and experiment with the need to embrace different genres of writing and create new discourses that can become more adequate resources in support of developing post-modern meaningful leadership practices.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available