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  • 2020chafferphd

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Leadership development: containment enough

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

  • Jo Chaffer
Publication date2020
Number of pages264
Awarding Institution
  • Lancaster University
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Externally publishedYes


How can we do leadership better, for any place, for whatever we need leadership to do there?
In this thesis I propose that the ongoing ability to perceive, reflex on, choose and act to get safe-enough, problematized-enough to make confident-enough decisions on the leadership practice needed is a key practice to practise. This is doing containment. Practising involves paying critical attention to place, practices, power, pace, position, performance, processes, purpose for our people (the Ps). It involves getting comfortable-enough sitting into discomfort. Practise, as explored in the Development section, necessitates seeking guides, resources, models and other ‘stuff’ and making critical agentic choices to purpose this ‘for’ doing development (of self, of
others). Enough is key to this.
I draw on voices from multiple academic fields and also from other philosophical, cultural, practice-based ways of knowing, being and becoming, particularly the work of Nagarjuna. These voices form a notional community of consensus-enough with justification-enough to support the theory-in-use of containment. This is explored in four studies: the first two studies with partner firms in Nepal to substantiate containment-in-practice; the second two studies, in India and the UK, build the theory-in-use to a framework for interventions supporting leadership development. These studies initially followed a Constructivist Grounded Theory Methodology (CGTM) then moved towards a more post-qualitative approach to method.
Containment is proposed within constructivist, situated knowledges and a Middle Way approach. As such the researcher’s voice, position and socio-cultural place and those of the research participants are explored along with their influences on the inquiry, its development and impacts.
The thesis concludes with a call for a renaissance in criticality within groups, organisations and the public sphere, activated by leadership as a counter to the too-safe consensus that feels not-safe-enough. Attention to Place and to Practise is the key.
Please find individual parts of this thesis uploaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/e8vuro6ayxxxo45/AAA__28kSNwKNgMgw7CVFtsAa?dl=0