Threshold Concepts and Modalities for Teaching Leadership Practice
Boston University - School of Management
Joseph A. Raelin
Northeastern University - D’Amore-McKim School of Business
August 10, 2011
Management Learning, Forthcoming
Boston U. School of Management Research Paper No. 2011-17
Can the teaching of leadership transform practice? What concepts and modalities are best suited to do so? This paper builds on Meyer and Land’s (2003) theory of threshold concepts to examine how students learn and experience leadership as a complex and multi-faceted practice. Threshold concepts are conceptual gateways, opening up new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about a field. In an ethnographic account using participant observation, analysis of student papers, and in-depth interviews, the authors identified two threshold concepts that had a transformational impact on students: (i) situational leadership and (ii) shared leadership. In addition, they found three modalities that supported the learning of threshold concepts: (i) variation, (ii) enactment, and (iii) reflection. The paper concludes by citing the broader implications for the research and teaching of leadership practice.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 49
Keywords: threshold concepts, threshold modalities, action learning, leadership development, learning, practice
JEL Classification: J24, L00, L20, M00, M10, M12, M14, M53, M54working papers series
Date posted: August 11, 2011 ; Last revised: December 5, 2012
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