Doctor of Philosophy
Some scholars in kinesiology have advocated for the adoption of the leadership-as-disciplinary stewardship (LDS) construct as a way for the discipline to survive and thrive in the challenging 21st Century university climate. Despite budding interest in LDS, there is a lack of empirical research on the construct and the limited conceptual literature lacks the specificity, practicality, and transformative quality necessary for realistic and fruitful application. This participatory research, informed by the social movement theory of collective action frames, investigated the meaning, need, development, and motivation of LDS in kinesiology by engaging 10 senior scholars from various countries and sub-disciplinary areas of kinesiology who have demonstrated interest/expertise in the construct (considered experts) in an interview-Delphi study. Thematic analysis revealed the experts viewed: (a) the meaning of and need for LDS in kinesiology as a powerful, yet slippery, philosophy focused on ensuring and enhancing the future of the discipline through the pursuit of integrity, and is variously and intentionally embedded in all aspects of all scholars’ work; and (b) the development of and motivation for LDS in kinesiology as requiring dedicated, multifarious, and contextualized development initiatives that are dialogical, narrative-based, and incentivized. Interpretation of the thematic findings through Alvesson’s (2012) organizational culture theory suggests the experts’ vision of and for LDS in kinesiology can be understood as: (a) focused on understanding and critically reflecting upon organizational culture so as to inspire more thoughtful and ethical organizational perspectives; and (b) developed and motivated through cultural change via the everyday reframing of cultural orientations. An appreciation of the individual and holistic connections between the experts’ vision and Alvesson’s theory indicates LDS is sufficiently specific, practical, and transformative for realistic and fruitful application; and well-suited to navigating the fragmenting and depoliticizing challenges of the 21st Century given the enhanced cultural understanding, coordination, and ethical consciousness it stimulates. Ultimately, it can be concluded from this research that the experts’ vision of and for LDS in kinesiology is a theoretically-supported and empirically-evidenced way of meaningfully understanding, acting in, and improving organization and, as such, indicates investment in the construct holds promise for a vibrant disciplinary future.
Summary for Lay Audience
Scholars in kinesiology address some of the most pressing and meaningful societal issues related to movement (e.g., health crises and joy of movement, respectively). However, as public funds to universities dwindle, academia has become an increasingly corporatized and competitive environment which presents challenges to the valuable work of scholars in all disciplines. Some scholars have suggested that adoption of the leadership-as-disciplinary stewardship (LDS) construct may be a promising way to survive and thrive in this challenging academic climate and continue their important contributions to society. However, despite enthusiasm for the construct, not enough is known about it and whether it is as promising as described. Therefore, this research investigated what LDS means and how it might be developed by interviewing 10 senior scholars from various countries and sub-disciplinary areas of kinesiology who have demonstrated interest/expertise in the construct (considered experts). The experts described: (a) the meaning of LDS in kinesiology as a philosophy that scholars variously and intentionally embed in all aspects of their work and is focused on ensuring and enhancing the discipline’s future through the pursuit of integrity; and (b) the development of LDS in kinesiology as requiring dedicated, contextualized, and incentivized development initiatives that are focused on dialogue and story-sharing. The experts’ vision of and for LDS in kinesiology can be better understood through Alvesson’s (2012) organizational culture theory as: (a) focused on understanding and critically reflecting upon shared meanings in the discipline so as to inspire more thoughtful and ethical perspectives; and (b) developed through ongoing and subtle renegotiation of meaning such that scholars in kinesiology are convinced to think like stewards. Taken together, these findings suggest that the view of LDS outlined in this research is sufficiently specific, practical, and transformative for realistic and fruitful application; and well-suited to navigating the challenges of the academic climate given the enhanced organizational understanding and ethical consciousness it stimulates. Ultimately, this research outlines a theoretically-supported and evidence-based way of meaningfully understanding, acting in, and improving one’s organization, thereby indicating investment in LDS holds promise for a vibrant future for scholars in kinesiology and their important societal contributions.
Lorusso, Jenna R., "Leadership-as-Disciplinary Stewardship: A Social Movement for Kinesiology’s Future Success in the 21st Century University" (2020). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 7366.
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