Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The role of attention cultivation in leadership development for sustainable business: A narrative inquiry
by Capa, Lisa Manipis, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2014, 273; 3680145
Abstract (Summary)

Since the late 1980s, a different way to do business began to achieve more widespread support. The intention of this form of business—sustainable business—is to conduct itself in a way that does not jeopardize the basic needs of present and future generations by unnecessarily sacrificing environmental, social, and economic resources. This is in contrast to traditional Western business practices that focus on maximizing short-term financial profit without much consideration of the impact on environmental and social resources. It appears that any change in business from the single bottom line of monetary profit to a triple bottom line of "people, planet, and profit" requires a different type of leadership. Research indicates that some practices that are meant to cultivate attention (e.g., meditation) contribute positively to leadership behavior, yet there is very little empirical evidence on the specific impact of attention cultivation practices on leadership capacities that may enhance sustainability in business.

This study uses the qualitative method of narrative inquiry in which six co-participants and I explore the role of attention cultivation in furthering sustainability in business. The six co-participants were clients in my leadership attention coaching practice who had received at least nine months of attention coaching, were employed at the time they received coaching, and were alumni of or currently enrolled in an MBA program geared towards sustainable business. Through a narrative analysis of interviews, narrative excerpts, and images of artwork, this study reveals three behavior patterns: Acquiring Equanimity, Nonjudgmental Attention, and Letting Go. Further examination of these patterns reveals that the impact of this specific attentional practice may support a leader's capacities for mindfulness, adaptive and authentic leadership, postconventional stages of mental complexity, and systems thinking, all of which have been suggested in the literature as capacities that contribute to furthering sustainability in business.

This study suggests that the primal faculty of the deployment of attention is foundational in a leader's capacity for movement that advances sustainability in business. Recommendations are offered for programs that train leaders in sustainable business, for leaders who are interested in advancing sustainability in business, and for further research.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Gozawa, Joanne
Commitee: Chess, Mary Kay, Nelson, Peter L.
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 76/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Management, Sustainability
Keywords: Attention, Attention cultivation, Leadership, Leadership development, Sustainability, Sustainable business
Publication Number: 3680145
ISBN: 978-1-321-51918-1
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