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Leadership Development, Wicked Problems and Action Learning: Provocations to a Debate

Edmonstone, J, Lawless, A and Pedler, M Leadership Development, Wicked Problems and Action Learning: Provocations to a Debate. Action Learning: research and practice. ISSN 1476-7341 (Accepted)

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Abstract

"The problem is the domain of the leader; unlike the puzzle, it is charged with unanswerable questions as well as unformulatable ones" (Revans, 1982: 712) If leadership is defined by a willingness to tackle the intractable or wicked issues - rather than the technical or procedural (Revans 1982: 712-4; Grint, 2005; 2007; 2010) - then, given that action learning is commonly employed on leadership development programmes, do the participants on these programmes address the unanswerable and unformulatable questions of leadership? This rather complex question arose in a conversation between the three of us at an editorial board meeting. It then led on to a protracted discussion over several months. We had all worked on leadership development programmes but had they actually tackled those challenges that formed the essence of leadership according to Revans, Grint and others? This felt like a straightforward query, yet we found it difficult to frame as a research question. The focus on the combination of leadership development, action learning and wicked problems proved hard to formulate; depending on which was taken as the "lead" term, different, if related, inquiries might follow. The question lay in the conjunction of these notions, and in our individual and joint experiences of trying to grasp it we found echoes of Revans' descriptions of leadership work.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 1303 Specialist Studies In Education, 1503 Business And Management
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5001 Business
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Liverpool Business School
Publisher: Taylor & Francis (Routledge): SSH Titles
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2018 09:40
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2018 06:33
URI: http://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/9807

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