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Leading in Multiple Dimensions: A Cognitive Frame Account of Public Virtue

47 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2016  

J. Patrick Dobel

University of Washington - Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance

Date Written: February 20, 2016

Abstract

This chapter presents a normative account of ethical leading as an agent centered form of public virtue. In this account public virtue involves an individual who uses focused reflection and judgment that rely on a disciplined pattern of self-awareness. Self-aware leaders intentionally work through four cognitive dimensions of public action. The ethical success of leading depends heavily upon addressing the four dimensions. As an account of virtue it assumes individual leaders accept personal responsibility for the consequences that flow from their action. This responsibility obligates leaders to structure their thinking to account for ethical and political facets that shape long term resilient policy and institutional outcomes. The dimensions work like mental models or frames that can be learned with experience and that structure cognitive, emotional and perceptual judgments. The chapter integrates traditional understandings of virtue as habit and practice with modern cognitive understandings of how the mind and mental frames work. Individuals can strengthen their public virtue by adopting these four mental dimensions as an integrated frame and use them to discipline their thinking. The four dimensions can give content to virtuous reflection, and two masked real life examples illustrate how public virtue can look in practice.

Keywords: leadership, ethics, virtue, cognitive frame

Suggested Citation

Dobel, J. Patrick, Leading in Multiple Dimensions: A Cognitive Frame Account of Public Virtue (February 20, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2735620 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2735620

J. Patrick Dobel (Contact Author)

University of Washington - Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance ( email )

Box 353055
Seattle, WA 98195
United States
206-616-1680 (Phone)

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