Threshold concepts and modalities for teaching leadership practice

Jeffrey Yip, Joseph A Raelin
  • Management Learning, November 2011, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/1350507611422476

What is it about?

Can the teaching of leadership transform practice? What concepts and modalities are best suited to do so? This article builds on Meyer and Land’s (2003) theory of threshold concepts to examine how students learn and experience leadership as a complex and multi-faceted practice. Threshold concepts are conceptual gateways, opening up new and previously inaccessible ways of thinking about a field. In an ethnographic account using participant observation, analysis of student papers, and in-depth interviews, the authors identified two threshold concepts that had a transformational impact on students: (1) situational leadership and (2) shared leadership. In addition, they found three modalities that supported the learning of threshold concepts: (1) variation, (2) enactment, and (3) reflection. The article concludes by citing the broader implications for the research and teaching of leadership practice.

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