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The ideal self as the driver of intentional change

Richard E. Boyatzis (Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)
Kleio Akrivou (Department of Organizational Behavior, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Management Development

ISSN: 0262-1711

Article publication date: 1 August 2006




If the ideal self is the emotional driver of intentional change, the purpose of this paper is to explore the components of a person's personal vision and how it comes from their ideal self.


Based on the concept of the ideal self from intentional change theory, the paper examines a variety of theoretical foundations, from psychoanalytic to positive psychology. Each views the ideal self and its components as deficiencies needing therapeutic intervention or the heights of human experience and intrinsic motivation.


The ideal self is a primary source of positive affect and psychophysiological arousal helping provide the drive for intentional change. Many current frameworks or theories examine only portions of this model and, therefore, leave major components unaddressed. The ideal self is composed of three major components: an image of a desired future; hope (and its constituents, self‐efficacy and optimism); and a comprehensive sense of one's core identity (past strengths, traits, and other enduring dispositions).


Intentional change is hard work and often fails because of lack of sufficient drive and the proper intrinsic motivation for it. This model of the ideal self creates a comprehensive context within which a person (or at other fractals, a group or system) can formulate why they want to adapt, evolve, or maintain their current desired state.



Boyatzis, R.E. and Akrivou, K. (2006), "The ideal self as the driver of intentional change", Journal of Management Development, Vol. 25 No. 7, pp. 624-642.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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