Research question dilemma

I mentioned in a few previous posts that my once rock solid research question has suddenly started to falter.  I changed from one, to another, and now  I am in a real limbo.  Everything is coming down to definitions in flux.

Originally I was examining leadership development in the Australian creative industries.

  • How do emerging leaders in the Australian creative industries develop their leadership capabilities?

Which then added the sub question of…

  • How do emerging leaders within the Australian creative industries relate to, and define, leadership?

But then it moved towards the issue of identity, and became:

  • How do members of the Australian creative industries develop their leadership identity?

But now I realise my definition of leadership development constitutes three different areas:

  1. Leadership capability – having the skills, knowledge and attributes to act as a leader.
  2. Leadership understanding – have knowledge of leadership concepts (learned either consciously or unconsciously) to form an individual view of what constitutes leadership.
  3. Leadership identity – having formed a position regarding one’s own relationship to leadership, i.e. willingness (or not) to be called (and act) as leader.

You can reject the title of leader but still act as a leader, and probably vice versa.

I basically need to combine my three questions together.

Complicating this is my view of the differences between leadership and leaders, which I have articulated here many times. So I’m trying to examine how creative practitioners in Australia learn leadership capability and understanding and form leadership identity.  But that’s not really a snappy question is it?

I played around with…

How to practitioners in the Australian creative industries learn to be leaders?

But that a) uses the world leaders, which I don’t like as much as leadership and b) it feels too direct.  I never actually asked that question. I asked if my subjects WERE leaders, not how they became leaders.

Which brings me to

How to practitioners in the Australian creative industries learn leadership?

Which feels too clunky for me and doesn’t really cover the breadth of what I’m doing either.

I still feel leadership development is the way to go – I can then unpack the concept into the three categories listed above without the question becoming torturous.  SO the original question works, except for the focus on capabilities.

How do practitioners in the Australian creative industries develop their leadership capabilities, understanding and identity?


Suggestions welcome.



1 thought on “Research question dilemma

  1. Pingback: Research statement de ja vu | PhD 2017

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