Ledarutveckling i arbetslivet. Kontexter, aktörer samt (o)likheter mellan utbildningskulturer

University dissertation from Umeå : Pedagogiska institutionen, Umeå universitet

Abstract: This dissertation is about leader development. It focuses on similarities and differences between contents in different in-house leader development programs, and on how these programs are organized. The purpose is to contribute knowledge about leader development in Swedish working life, by describing and analyzing different organizations- ways of doing leader development from a context-actor perspective. Very little research has been undertaken about leader development from a comparative perspective, although leader development is a question of current interest, and can be viewed as a fashion now in the beginning of the 21st century. The context-actor perspective that I use as theoretical point of departure is influenced partly by Bhaskar-s transformational model of social activity, partly by institutional theory and the notion of isomorphic processes, containing powers in the context of the organization in combination with local actors. An educational culture is seen as a single organization-s specific way to manage leader development. The dissertation is chiefly based on a case study of six organizations- leader development. I have interviewed 13 persons that had the responsibility for creating, carrying out and developing leader development efforts in these organizations. I also studied different documents from these organizations, and observed when actors from one of the organizations met their colleagues from similar organizations for discussions concerning leader development. The analysis of the data has had a distinct feature of abduction, and I used eight constructed aspects and 131 variables when comparing the organizations. My results suggest that the organizations- educational cultures had both overarching similarities and considerable differences. The deeper I probed into the ways in which the organizations did leader development, the more specific details I found. Most of the dissimilarities that appeared in the comparison turned out to be exclusive to specific organizations rather then to groups of organizations. The organizational level appeared as the most important context for shaping the specific characteristic of the different leader development programs. Likewise, the branch level and national level seem to play a central role, but the sector level turned out to be the context with the least importance for the organizations- ways of doing leader development. For the national level it is possible to argue that the similarities the organizations showed may constitute an example of the spirit of the times and everyday talk about leader development that can be found in Swedish working life. The actors turned out to be part of the organizations- human resources, and they were not seldom human resource managers and women. It was above all these actors that had the responsibility for and organized the leader development. The interplay between the actors and the context can be described in terms of the actors as creators of culture and bearers of culture respectively. There is consequently a potential for both transformation and reproduction as a result of the interplay between the powers that contexts and actors constitute. From the actors- statements it is obvious that they saw themselves as active actors. Overall, the research indicates that it is reasonable to describe an organization-s educational culture as a result of how the actors have interacted with different contexts. The existence of certain leader development ideals in Swedish working life is not necessarily a determining factor for how a single actor chooses to work with the leader development in a certain organization, though it depends on the latter.

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