Beyond Developing Leaders: Toward a Multi-Narrative Understanding of the Value of Leadership Development Programs

Pisitta Vongswasdi, Hannes Leroy, Moran Anisman-Razin, Johannes Claeys, Dirk van Dierendonck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Leadership development programs in organizations are often criticized for lacking demonstrated effectiveness, yet they continue to garner popularity and further investment. In this study, we examine alternative rationales and criteria people use to justify leadership development programs, going well beyond the espoused goal of developing more effective leaders. We build on prior literature on leadership development that has pointed to the need to develop a broader view of the value and uses of leadership development programs. We conducted two qualitative studies: (a) a focus group pilot study with business school leadership center directors, and (b) a main study with in-depth interviews with stakeholders involved with leadership development across eight organizations. Our analysis identified four narratives (i.e., empiricist, believer, cynic, and pragmatist), each of which suggests distinct understandings of the function of leadership development in organizations. We discuss how these findings highlight the diversity in logic that justifies the use of various forms of leadership development, thus contributing to the current thinking on how leadership development programs can be designed to meet the needs and expectations of different stakeholders in organizations.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcademy of Management Learning and Education
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023

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