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Leadership Research: An Arts-Informed Perspective

Journal of Management Inquiry

Published online on


The positivist tradition for studying leadership involves correlational analyses and manipulation of an independent variable to determine the effect on a dependent variable while holding all other variables constant. Despite voluminous empirical data, an understanding of leadership has remained elusive. This article proposes the convergence of an arts-informed qualitative research with positivist methodologies, opening up space for a nontraditional approach to understanding leadership that is storied, embodied, and participatory. The epistemological pluralism of arts-informed research, rooted in the literary, visual, and performing arts, generates possibilities for understanding the tacit personal worldview of culturally diverse leaders who, as the result of globalization and changing demographics, are reaching leadership positions. Through a process of reflexivity, knowledge of the particular, and shared meaning-making, this approach has the potential to inform scholarship by enabling researchers to tap into and appreciate emotional as well as cognitive processes that differentiate and explain the behavior of leaders.