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Hero or Human? Transformative approaches to leadership education in contemporary Business Schools

Special issue call for papers from Journal of Management Development

Call for Papers deadline extension

Deadline for paper submission December 1st 2017

Guest Editors

Kerrie Fleming
Director of Ashridge Centre for Leadership, Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School

Carla Millar
Ashridge Fellow and Professor of International Management, University of Twente, NL

Vicki Culpin
Professor of Organisational Behaviour, Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School


This Special Issue will address the merits of reflection and humility in leadership teaching across the business school landscape. Current Business schools have and tend to focus on 'leader centred' teaching which has been influenced by heroic perspectives of leadership (Collinson and Tourish, 2015). The problem with this approach is that it assumes that leadership is a stable construct as opposed to a social construct (Collinson and Tourish, 2015, p. 578) which in turn leaves executives and students of leadership in a frustrated state when faced with realities of increasing challenges of uncertainty, disagreements and unpredictability of their environments. The prescriptive recipes of predictability, command and control offered by prolific management and leadership theories (Mumford and Fried, 2014), often grounded in trait and charismatic schools of leadership, do not always help leaders to deal with the increasing challenges of uncertainty, disagreements and unpredictability which they face. These contemporary leaders and managers firstly need to understand what capacities and deficiencies they have as individuals, and secondly how to build an appropriate mix of these skills through understanding and reflecting on their own individual experiences and actions. Petriglieri and Petriglieri (2015) suggest that this humanization of leadership will stimulate behaviours which are more automatic and understandable to the leader and can be used with ease in their role as leaders and managers across many contexts, turbulent or otherwise, which reduces reliance on current business school and textbook approaches to leadership.

This pedagogy where practice and research focuses on how leaders can learn whilst doing is supported by Pritchard and Chesterman's (2011) who offer that such an approach improves reflection abilities, instigates a feedback culture to help increase self-awareness and awareness of others, and improved communication and performance. The leader continuously extract the learning from each situation and consolidate these lessons to ultimately increase leadership abilities within their own specific context. This approach to learning using mindful engagement to develop leadership and management capacity is gaining much traction across the literature (Ashfort and Ross, 2012; Bartsch and Mehrwert, 2012, De Rue and Scott, 2009; Gitsham, 2012; Janson, 2012, Muir, 2014). With this in mind, we understand that on a daily basis the reality of leadership and management today means learning new skills, demonstrating multiple competences and managing multiple situations. Within this context, competencies are seldom called upon or required separately and – from our experience – people adopt and embrace competencies most easily when they are clustered into a coherent and complementary development process in their own context.

Proposed Special Issue outcome

We are seeking contributions reflecting different perspectives and methodological approaches that explore a departure from prescriptive methods in leadership teaching across a range of international contexts, cultures or industry sectors. While empirical contributions are encouraged, theoretical and conceptual papers which address the contextualization of leadership and management development in the current global context, wider aspects of the debate within management and leadership development are particularly welcome. Specific topics that would be of interest to the special issue editors include, but not exclusively so, the following, in the context of the title of the SI: "Hero or Human? Transformative approaches to leadership education in contemporary Business Schools"

  • Contemporary business school teachings – fit for purpose?
  • Heroic leadership – redundant or reality?
  • The Human Leader- merits and pitfalls
  • Action research in evolving leadership and management effectiveness
  • The future leader – skills, what to keep and what to dispense with?
  • Leadership and management development in action: success and failures
  • How can business school teaching become relevant for the contemporary leader?

We welcome both empirical and conceptual papers on topics related to the theme of the Special Issue. We are looking for a sound theoretical or practical motivation which helps to build some key literature and prompts some future research, as well as offering proven examples of what management development will look like in the future. For any queries contact either of the editors: Kerrie Fleming ([email protected]) or Carla Millar ([email protected]).

Review Process and Submission

  • All manuscripts will be double-blind reviewed.
  • Manuscripts should follow the style guidelines of the Journal of Management Development.
  • Manuscripts are submitted with the understanding that they are original, unpublished works and are not being submitted elsewhere.
  • Manuscripts should be submitted to "" by December 1st 2016.
  • Please indicate clearly, both in the email heading and on your paper that your submission is for "JMD".
  • Paper details:
    • First page: manuscript title and names, institutional affiliation, and contact information for each of the authors.
    • Second page: manuscript title and brief (100 word maximum) biography of each of the authors.
    • Third page: manuscript title and brief (250 word maximum) abstract of the paper.
    • Fourth page and following: manuscript title followed by the text of paper.
    • Third, fourth, and pages following should have no reference to, or name(s) of, the author(s)
  • The paper is between 4000 and 5000 words in length


Ashford, S. and Ross, S.M. (2012), "Developing as a leader: The power of mindful engagement", Organizational Dynamics, vol. 41 no.2, pp. 146-154

Bartsch, G. amd Mehrwert, A. (2012), "Emotional learning: Managerial development by corporate volunteering", Journal of Management Development, vol. 31 no. 3, pp. 253-262

Collinson, D. and Tourish, D. (2015), "Teaching Leadership critically: New Directions for Leadership Pedagogy", Academy of Management Learning and Education, vol. 14 no.4, 578-594

De Rue, D.S. (2009), "Developing leaders via experience: The role of developmental challenge, learning orientation and feedback availability", Journal of Applied Psychology, vol. 94 no. 4, pp. 859-875

Gitsham, M. (2012), "Experiential learning for leadership and sustainability at IBM and HSBC", Journal of Management Development, vol. 31 no. 3, pp. 298-307

Janson, A. (2008), Extracting leadership knowledge from formative experiences, US: Sage Publications.

Muir, D. (2014), "Mentoring and leader identity development: A case study", Human Resource Development Quarterly, vol. 25 no. 3, pp. 349-379

Mumford, M.and Fried, Y. (2014), "Give them what they want or give them what they need? Idealogy in the study of leadership", Journal of Organisational Behaviour, vol. 35, pp. 622-634

Petriglieri, G. and Petriglieri, J.L. (2015), "Can Business Schools Humanize Leadership", Academy of Management Learning and Education, vol. 14 no.4, pp. 625-647

Pritchard, S., Voller, S., Chesterman, D. and Nicklen, S. (2011) Leading Complex Projects: a collection of working papers, limited to members of the Leading complex Projects Action Research Consortium.