A phenomenological study of leadership in the Rhodes Unversity Mathematics Education Project (RUMEP)

Michael, Vanessa Jane (2001) A phenomenological study of leadership in the Rhodes Unversity Mathematics Education Project (RUMEP). Masters thesis, Rhodes University.




Few terms in organisational studies inspire less agreement than leadership. It is a slippery concept and much that is written on the subject is confusing and contradictory. Early theories of leadership have, generally, reduced leadership behaviour to a concern for task balanced against a concern for the well-being of employees. This two-dimensional approach has proved to be a limited conceptualisation of leadership. In response, over the past thirty years, researchers have tried to highlight the less rationalistic, more intangible, aspects of leadership. However, there is still very little in leadership research that conveys a sense of the leader as a person. I have argued, in this study, that the reason for this lies in the fact that most leadership research has been conducted along positivistic lines and, therefore, cannot take into account the values, feelings, morals and life experiences of the human beings being studied. Thus, for the human being to take centre-stage in leadership enquiry, a different research paradigm needs to be explored. I have chosen to use phenomenological enquiry as an avenue for examining how John Stoker, the leader of the Rhodes University Mathematics Education Project (RUMEP), experiences being a leader. This is because phenomenology, in both theory and practice, privileges the nature of the meanings that people construct in their lives and that guide their actions. In adopting such a methodology my research findings have examined a number of issues that are of interest to current leadership researchers, however they have also highlighted a number of concerns that have not been explored thoroughly in the leadership literature. These include the importance of the individual leader’s action, intention and will in shaping an organisation, the complex nature of a leader’s creativity within the organisation and possible differences between educational leaders and business leaders. In adopting a phenomenological perspective the eccentricity and fulness of an individual leader’s action is expressed through the research, however, the research also focusses on how the researcher translates and evolving philosophical understanding into sound methodology. Therefore, interwoven into the discussions on leadership there are reflections on how I applied phenomenological theory. The purpose of these reflections is to deliberate on the appropriateness of applying such a methodology to the eclectic field of leadership and to show how my own developing philosophical attitude has transformed into practice.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Uncontrolled Keywords:Educational leadership
Subjects:L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Education > Education
ID Code:2327
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:09 Jan 2012 12:15
Last Modified:20 Jun 2013 13:10
114 full-text download(s) since 09 Jan 2012 12:15
83 full-text download(s) in the past 12 months
More statistics...

Repository Staff Only: item control page