Leadership and knowledge: Symbolic connectionist and embodied perspectives

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Leadership and knowledge: Symbolic connectionist and embodied perspectives
The Leadership Quarterly

Although organizational practices and leadership processes are contingent upon knowledge acquisition and use the changing conceptualizations of knowledge in cognitive science are often overlooked in research. Nevertheless leadership research has inherently reflected shifting views of knowledge transitioning from an emphasis on the classical symbolic view to connectionism and most recently to an embodied embedded view of cognition. We argue that different leadership processes uniquely draw on these three types of knowledge and that excluding a connectionist or embodied embedded view of knowledge creates an impoverished understanding of leadership. To illustrate this problem we provide two follower-centric and two leader-centric examples of leadership processes which rely on the multiple forms of knowledge described herein: followers' attributional reasoning rearding leadership followers' perceptions and memories of leaders processes that generate leaders' behavioral choices and finally leaders' sensemaking/decision-making. We also discuss how these three perspectives could be integrated in future research to provide a richer understanding of leadership processes particularly those based on collective interactive leadership processes that emerge in groups of individuals.



The Leadership Quarterly 22 (2011) 207 – 222

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