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Leadership: A Function of Organisations as Complex Systems

Harry Gray (CANAL Ltd.)

Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact

ISBN: 978-1-80071-365-9, eISBN: 978-1-80071-364-2

Publication date: 13 May 2022


The chapter describes an approach to teaching people how to understand organisations by focussing on observing what is going on in the group itself and the experiences of the members individually and collectively. This mode of learning does not use descriptions or theories about organisations but sees each group as unique in its particularities not as generalisable behaviour. The approach is called subjective theory and provides a basis for a general theory of organisations which has eluded most writers but is epitomised in the work of Carl Rogers and Encounter Groups.

The method fits well with the concept of the reflective practitioner and has a long tradition dating from the 1930s and the work of the Tavistock Institute and Elliot Jaques, and the Glacier Papers. The approach has been poplar in the UK, Canada, the USA, Western Europe, South Africa and Australia. Subjective theory provides a way of counterbalancing the currently dominant objective approaches used in artificial intelligence which often becomes reductionist and simplistic.



Gray, H. (2022), "Leadership: A Function of Organisations as Complex Systems", Gray, H., Gimson, A. and Cunningham, I. (Ed.) Developing Leaders for Real: Proven Approaches That Deliver Impact, Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 17-26.



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