Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Open yet unbroken: We emerge as a circle of women leaders through an artful action inquiry
by Quirk, Nika Newcomb, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2012, 244; 3508101
Abstract (Summary)

Amidst the great change and rising complexity of the early 21st century, this inquiry's four women co-participants explored the timely question “How might we develop a social space and a process that facilitate an emergent practice of shared leadership?” An Artful Action Inquiry, co-constructed by participants, provided the structure through which to engage in a playful and reflective practice of group learning, self- discovery, and collaborative action over a six-month period.

Our current turbulent and transformative era calls for us to develop such post-heroic leadership styles and structures fostering active engagement founded on a mindful, integrated connection between We and I. Conscious systems participation, whole intelligence, and harmonious collaboration are three critical and interdependent elements in developing organizations engaged in sustainable human systems. There is an identified gap between the growing need for those of us shaped by Western societal norms to act interdependently and creatively, and our ability to do so. The women in this circle of inquiry make a contribution to addressing this developmental gap by reporting on their own collaborative emergence as a team taking action to establish a non-profit organization in the United States.

Participants found that investing time and full creative presence in co-creating social space provided a supportive framework for the vulnerability necessary in emergent, paradigm-shifting work. We practically and beneficially applied art making, movement and storytelling to the work of envisioning, assessing, and strategizing paths of action. We experienced how engaging with collective intention both confronts us and opens doors to deeper relational work practice and growth-in-connection.

Our circle emerged as open yet unbroken, where “open” expresses our individual freedom as brilliantly unique and specialized human participants and “unbroken” holds the reality and the opportunity of fully connected integration in the social and planetary system. Therein lies the challenge of practice in such a both/and paradigm. As we intentionally enacted the metaphor of shared leadership in this research, we found that it is insufficient to hold the ideology of the circle while practicing a separative self-concept. A desire or choice to share power is only the beginning of the work required to enact power-with.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Simons, Shoshana
Commitee: Paxton, Doug, Seeley, Chris
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Epistemology, Social psychology, Womens studies, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Action inquiry, Artful knowing, Collaborative emergence, Improvisation, Postheroic leadership, Relational practice, Women leaders
Publication Number: 3508101
ISBN: 9781267336576
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