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Leadership, dialogue and development

The word 'dialogue' is one of the most widely used in contemporary society - 'the need for dialogue' is stressed in numerous contexts. So far, 'dialogue' is a fairly vague reference word rather than an organising principle for, say, research and development. On the other hand, the word also has what can be called an intellectual content.

Departing from the recognition that no theory, no argument, no ethical position has any penetrative power unless it is communicated to those concerned, they set out to clarify the conditions for commitment-generating communication through major theoretical efforts. The idea of dialogue has been given a new point of departure throughout the years as the underpinning of free communication in the form of general criteria based on theory has in itself met with criticism.

Leadership needs to be established in communication; the issue is what kind of communication. The ability to launch ideas and perspectives which have the potential for creating commitment is not the only dimension; what scope exists for involvement from those to whom the idea is presented? When dialogical involvement is emphasised - when a main focus could be placed on culture and charisma - leadership has to constitute itself in words.

This project aims to explore, together with some enterprises and leaders, moments of leadership, i.e. points in time and space when leadership constitutes itself along given lines. Together with this, however, the grounds for constituting leadership in terms of a 'listening audience' are to be investigated, along with the possibilities for dialogical involvement in realising the idea. This, in turn, leads into more well-known areas such as the innovative capabilities of the organisation, its way of structuring processes of development and the like. It is presumed that along with these more descriptive efforts, a discussion will be generated concerning improvements and development.

Research team:
J. Berglund and J. Shotter

Work on this project ended in 2000


Berglund, J. & Tillberg, U. (1999) Dialoger i litteraturen - en studie i dialogbegreppet speglat i tre författarskap. Research Paper Series 1/1999. Stockholm: Centre for Advanced Studies in Leadership at Stockholm School of Economics. »

Shotter, J. & Gustavsen, B. (1999) The Role of "Dialogue Conferences" in the Development of "Learning regions": Doing "from within" our lives together what we cannot do apart. Stockholm: Centre for Advanced Studies in Leadership at Stockholm School of Economics.

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