An Enactive Perspective of Understanding Leadership: A Comparative Case Study Approach

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Koya, Kushwanth ; Sice, Petia ; Rauch, Laurie (2016)

Leadership is a significant element in the present life of organizations. Recent reviews suggest building novel frameworks through which leadership, as a phenomenon, could be understood comprehensively, considering all the aspects of human experience. The autopoietic perspective on cognition suggests that the quality of human experience is determined by the interplay between the biological and social dynamics of an active situated human agent, we enact our ‘reality’, rather than recognize one. Thus, an integrated approach to the study of any phenomenon in the social domain requires focus on the interrelatedness of the biological, mental and social aspects. This exploratory paper provides an insight into the findings of an empirical study of leadership consonant with an enactive perspective on human experience, including the biological, behavioral and social dynamics of the leadership phenomenon. The research implemented mixed methods under the umbrella of a multidisciplinary comparative case study. Heart rate variability (HRV) demonstrated as the biomarker for physiological data, semi-structured interviews, the Leadership Behavior Development Questionnaire (LBDQ) and a researcher’s reflective diary were used to collect qualitative data and assist in understanding behavioral attributes. The results indicated a correlation between physiology, attitudes and behaviors, social dynamics and performance.
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