Building on research models

I was asked, back at the AIMAC doctoral workshop, to name three key articles I’m building on.  At the time I was a bit deer in headlights and failed to recall the ‘top three’ influencers.

But it was niggling me for the remainder of the trip, what conceptual model am I working from? 

As someone working in arts management, borrowing tools from humanities, I didn’t feel I had one model I could say was underpinning the research. “I’m cross-disciplinary,” I’d bemoan.  In reality I’m not, but I like to whine.

There was one paper I’d read that kept creeping into my consciousness. And when I had a moment I searched my databases hoping something would jump out at me.  I found no notes and got increasingly worried that my brain had failed me, that there was this all important article that I lost.

Yesterday I blocked out an hour to search for it.  And within 10 minutes I’d found it, and an hour later I’d copied out the magic model.

Only to find that when I went to save it I’d already (in February) copied the model into powerpoint and saved it in its’ own folder, clearly labelled.  

So clearly 90% of the time I’m smarter than I expect, but the remaining 10% (or should that be 11%) I’m even dumber than dirt.

This is all beside the point, as this one article pretty much spells out a conceptual model that I am leveraging for my research.  If only I’d put it into my AIMAC presentation.

Leadership through lived experience: a process of apprenticeship? (Kempster, 2006)

This paper explores leadership learning within a single organisation. In depth interviews are undertaken with six directors and grounded theory is used to develop underlying causal influences, operating within a particular context, impacting ability to lead.  The author uses the metaphor of apprenticeship to capture the essence of leadership experience and argues it has implications regarding the efficacy and effectiveness of leadership development interventions.

So in my case I too am exploring leadership through lived experience.  Where this paper poses the theme of ‘how have directors in a single organisation learnt to lead?” I ask “How have creative practitioners (across organisations) learnt to lead?”

The methodology, interview based, is similar, but the analysis likely to be different. Where Kempster takes a critical realist approach, I am more a social constructivist.

Many of the themes I am exploring around social learning, observational learning and communities of practice and the role of identity in leadership learning are included in this paper. Importantly his finding include (p11):

  1. Low level of influence of formal development through organised interventions;
  2. The dominance of notable people influencing leadership learning;
  3. Realisation by the directors, through the interview process, of influences shaping leadership learning.

This echoes the findings I am seeing in my data, with number two being more around participation in close communities of practice as opposed to notable people (though they often exist within the community).  I am also getting a lot of comments about the ‘therapeutic’ nature of the interview process, that suggests, like Kempster, that the research process is providing space for leadership reflection.

My research differs from the industry perspective, the organisational perspective and I have an additional element which is the question of rejection of leadership, which I doubt is something that Kempster would have encountered in his subjects.

Kempster developed a model that could provide the framework for my research:


In essence my thesis is exploring this model within the creative industries context, and arguing that communities of practice are the environments in which experiences, reflection, knowledge and participation occurs.  Those outside communities do not embrace the ‘becoming’ identity development as readily and are more likely to reject the role of leader.

To paraphrase Kanye West….*drops mic.*

1 thought on “Building on research models

  1. Pingback: What it’s all about | Surry Hills PhD

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