Dialogue: Integral Leadership, Wendelin Kupers and Russ Volckmann, Part I

Dialogue / August 2009

kupersvolckmannRuss: Wendelin, I am delighted to have the opportunity to explore, clarify and develop the application of integral theory to the complex phenomenon of leadership. I hope this dialogue will be useful to the readers of Integral Leadership Review and far beyond.

To begin with, I feel a deep sense of responsibility in entering this dialogue with you. For one, I have great respect for your work and the degree that you almost uniquely have been able to crack the proverbial boundaries around what is admissible in academic discourse. While this may be, perhaps, a bit overstated, it is nevertheless true that your work that includes attention to integral theory/perspective has shown up in many more peer reviewed academic journals related to leadership than anyone else I know. If I need to be disabused of this opinion, I am sure I can count on you to introduce the work of other scholars who have made significant contributions.

Second, I do want you to know that in recent years I have been attracting more dissertation scholars to include me on their committees when their topics relate to Integral Leadership. This fills me with a deep sense of responsibility to be able to share with them the best and most useful material related to the subject, categories in which I include your work. Thus far, I have been pleased at the response of scholars who are chairing these committees and other committee members to the perspectives and issues that I raise. I think this is important work, because I believe that it contributes to the opening of the academic community to integrally related ideas.

As you may or may not know we have incorporated Integral Publishers. In addition to publishing ILR and LeadingDigest, we are publishing integrally related books and we are determined to make available worldwide the work of practitioners, scholars and developers an opportunity for their integrally informed voices to be heard. Perhaps we will speak more of this later, but in the meanwhile I want you and our readers to know that we are about to launch the publication of integrally informed dissertations on all topics to make them widely available within the larger community of those interested to read research on various topics.

Third, this year I have an opportunity to work with graduate students in three graduate institutes on the subject of Integral Leadership. This ranges from a half-day session at a residency to a full-fledged advanced graduate seminar on the topic. This just tunes up the responsibility I feel to provide them with an opportunity to not only learn about what is out there, but to learn about their own interiors of meaning making while examining the theories and concepts of integral thought and the relevance of transdisciplinarity, adult development theories and models, as well as complexity theory. At this point, I bring a very mixed bag of skills and knowledge to this enterprise, but as I have stated in a PowerPoint presentation for each of these Institutes,

My Mission

Encourage More Faculty and Graduate Students To Do Research and Writing about Integral Leadership and

Encourage Faculty Teaching Leadership to Include Integral Perspectives in Their Teaching and Writing

As you can see, I hope to broaden participation in explorations of Integral Leadership. I trust this dialogue with you will contribute to that. It will provide me with an opportunity to test my own way of approaching this with a scholar whose work I admire and stimulate my own learning to that others can benefit. I believe this is an important endeavor for, as I state in the same presentation,

  • I don’t think that serious problems are being solved in most of our organizations and societies.
  • Values are changing, both societal and individual.
  • People in the Western world, in particular, are less willing to play a follower role and just do what other people say they should do.
  • Various disciplines are having the same problems of fragmentation and application and are thinking along the same lines as futurists in leadership.

I borrowed this list from somewhere and I cannot recall the source.

I am encouraged by the fact that I am discovering others who are thinking and writing about approaches and perspectives that are closely aligned with an integral perspective. An example of this is David Day et al’s earlier articles and recent book on leader and leadership development. I don’t think they are “there” yet, but they are getting there, as I suppose we all are. And that is one source of my excitement and energy around this topic. I see the doors opening, not just in academia, but in real world institutions and in the minds of more and more individuals who are in the world trying to move us to take generative action that holds hope for the evolution and future of human societies and the ecology.

Complex stuff. With integral, I find that it can get very complex, very quickly. But I also find that with integral there is the prospect of doing a better job of engaging that complexity. And the roles, functions, performance and systems of leadership are key elements. I do hope soon to share with you some key elements in my current thinking about his, but do want to give you the opportunity to respond to what I have offered so far, before proceeding.

Again, I could not be more delighted that we are initiating this dialogue.

Wendelin: Particular thanks for your warm words and kind invitation to embark on a conversation to discuss integral theory related to organization and leadership.

Dealing with those cracks and boundaries you mentioned around the established academic discourse is indeed a challenge and risky undertaking. However, I see this as imperative for getting integral thinking into the scientific world and also through that into the world of practice!

It seems to be so easy to ignore trying to reach the academic world and create and dwell in a kind of ‘pseudo-academic’ cosmos. Do not get me wrong; it is important to have independent forums and free unfoldments of innovative ideas, but facing the challenge to be contested (by reviewers and other scientists) and to get into established discourses (including doing the detailed and laborious work this entails) seems to be a necessary part of the further development and application of integral theorizing (and its much needed empirical testing).

As outlined in my article on inter-leadership (co-authored with an established professor in the field of leadership research) the fragmented studies of leadership are in urgent need for an integral perspective or at least being integrally more informed in order for the ‘ship’ of leadership research to find an appropriate passage on its contemporary epistemic odyssey between the swamps of retro-romantic, hero-centered pre-modern regression, the rocks of dogmatic, mechanistic modernity (Scylla) and the whirlpool of dispersed postmodernity (Caribdis).

In addition to writing articles in peer-review journals and bringing integral ideas to conferences, we need to get into the institutionalized system of universities. Becoming part of committees, e.g. for dissertations, is one important and influential way to do that. Furthermore, providing material for students and young researchers as part of this is very basic indeed.

What you write about your work on a more comprehensive understanding of leadership with graduate students in those institutes is encouraging.

In terms of teaching, I have developed with a colleague a course on integral organization and leadership. This is now an incorporated part of the provided material for a master course in business administration at the Open (Distance) University of Germany. In this way we could integrate integral dimensions into a course based on blended learning, including distance learning and seminars.

Also in my current teaching in courses on advanced research methods and organization and management, I systematically integrate integral frameworks. Furthermore, I know some other colleagues of mine, who use integral material in their teaching at Universities in Europe.

Setting up Ph.D. Workshops and faculty teaching and further education and training—which focus on integral thinking and methodologies in academic institutions—would be another possibility to contribute to that needed opening you mentioned. Perhaps we should think about how to coordinate and organize joint (Ph.D.) workshops or micro-conferences together.

Furthermore, convening streams on conferences is an excellent possibility for not only being perceived, but inviting others to write on topics related to an integral orientation or integrally informed leadership. For example, I will co-convene a stream on wisdom in leadership at the largest conference on organization studies (EGOS) with the main topic, “Waves of Globalization” in Portugal next year.

I do this also because for me Integral Leadership is one that realizes a revived form of practical wisdom. Practices of integral wisdom are complexity understood and enacted. In other words: Holonically striving and realizing for an integrity of being, knowing, doing and effectuating a wise leadership is manifesting what Integral Leadership is all about. With the other co-organiser we do hope to gather inspiring conference papers and discussions as well as plan to write a book on this topic, in which the contributions of this conference stream will be published.

Those incorporated integral publishers you mentioned, who publish integrally related journals and books—and thereby making conceptual models or approved practical knowledge accessible worldwide—are and will be even more significant for distributing and sharing or debating about integral approaches. Today’s media provides, indeed, a tremendous potential for integrally informed voices to be heard and considered or inviting possibilities for critical discussion. In this context it is important that ‘Integral Review’ has been picked up by EBSCO Publishing, which makes its contents accessible through their humanities database in institutions worldwide. [So has Integral Leadership Review—Russ]

Your ideas of launching the listing and publication of integrally informed dissertations will certainly find interested users and may lay the base for further building up a data base. Additionally, I foresee also more on-line publication, debates and blogging on web-forums.

Based on your correct diagnosis (the source would be helpful!), what you describe with those examples as ‘getting there’, as indeed we are all on that way, is what I would call “proto-integral”. Importantly there is no teleologically pre-determined destination of these movements, but they are part of a journeying towards open horizons. Seeing proto-integral unfoldments and more and more integrally oriented generative thinking and action taking place and finding its times, these are signs which also for me are sources of being motivated to work onwards around integral topics.

However, as much as I see doors are opening, those can also be easily closing, for example, when integral ideas are presented in inadequate ways or being instrumentalised for ideological purposes or serving vested or cultic interests.

My impression of the present state of (social) science and generation of knowledge is that the overall majority of academics still stick to their discipline and sub-disciplines. Blurring fields and approaches and cross-fertilization of disciplines towards more integral interpretation (or at least integrally informed orientation) happens, but are still the exception. The still prevailing intellectual specialization formed by educational training and career orientation reproduces disciplinary fragmentation, instead of transdisciplinary reflection and integration.

Most of my colleagues adapt to modernist rules in order to get anywhere in academic work and especially to get published and gain academic credentials. Or they become cynic post-+-modernist players dropping out of or playing with the mainstream, after having found a kind of self-contained niche to live in.

Additionally, there are many more reasons why there is not much more integral or support for integral ideas.

Many of the disciplines of social science and particularly the field or organization and leadership studies proceed from a functionalist paradigm and from a neopositivist epistemology. Nevertheless, for me organization- and leadership- studies is a suitable field for exploring and applying integral ideas as it represents a middle level area between micro aspects of individuals, and more collective dimensions on meso- and macro levels.

For me leadership studies—due to its contents and involved processes—are inviting multi-, inter-, trans-, and meta-disciplinary approaches and interpretation, thus are not only suited to, but also are an excellent testing ground or field of applied conscious use of a more inclusive and integral orientation. Moreover, complementary to using integral thinking as meta-theoretical and conceptual orientation, it can practically be employed for facilitating diagnostic, prognostic and applicable ways of implementing more integral practices. In practical terms, Integral Leadership orientation provides a helpful and strategic map not only for developing a needed more comprehensive and multi-dimensional understanding, but also for guiding corresponding performance of leadership dynamics and leveraging emerging organizational activities in a more appropriate and more sustainably effective way, while driving differentiation and achieving desired results especially during change as described for example by Landrum and Gardner (2005).

For an Integral Leadership to be realized we need to consider systematically the body and (its) embodiment, which is one of my emphases on my research. Based on an integrally informed advanced and adequate phenomenology as well as pragmatism and what I call pheno-practice, I currently work on the role of habits (habitus) and improvisation of and within leadership. More and more I realize how much habits constitute the basic nature and disposition of an embodied integration, serving as a persistence and actualisation of possibilities for an integral involvement in the world.

As constitutive structures of organised response, habits predispose a leadership practice actively, in that they determine what leaders and followers perceive, feel and think, that is focus upon, and how they respond and act. Based on phenomenological and pragmatic interpretations, habits can be seen as those forms of embodied creative agency that are shaping meaningful and purposive conduct of an integral practices and as such do not only form but enable and also enlarge the agential field of integral action.

Interestingly, pragmatism—particularly that one developed by Dewey and Mead—provide a proto-integral view on how to achieve integration especially associated with the human capacity to engage in an intelligent responsiveness. How do leaders and followers find coherence between their internal and external environments? How do they achieve some consistency between their thinking, feeling and actions in relating to material and collective conditions, which they are part of and surrounded by? How by integrating are they able to express and develop creative habits and imaginative practices? How can initiative, adventure, experiment and an intelligent engagement with and evaluation of the circumstances in which leaders and followers find themselves be facilitated? (Dewey 1958 ).

Critically we need to understand why is it difficult for leaders as well as followers or subordinate groups, which are exposed to un-healthy habits, prejudicial norms, patriarchal and other oppressive relationships, to achieve high(er) levels of integration and thus remain bound to fractured subjectivities causing conformism. The integrative forces and potentials will not be realized without integrating enhanced embodied, habits, (and its realities operations, procedures, actions and practices) also on a collective level.

To incorporate integral practice we need to cultivate, pre-reflexive and reflexive habits. Importantly, habits via de-, and re-inhabitualisations—emerging from variable individual and always also social inter- and trans-actions—are what enable leaders and followers to engage the world in new and different ways, thus transforming themselves and by this their life-worlds.

Importantly, this transformative process and creative practice aims at opening up possibilities for emerging formative relations between being and becoming, acting and feeling, between who leaders and followers are and who they could be(come). Accordingly, the corresponding practice, what I call inter-practice, is always already pre-formed (pre-informed by sediments, previous experience, tacit and implicit knowing) and pre-forming by giving significance and making or letting sense be. Furthermore, such a practice is being per-formed in specific ways of enactment. Moreover, it in-forms, in that knowing about the practice (reflexively), conveys information about appearances and appropriateness and consequently, if recognised as insufficient re-forms, changes and adapts its outer forms of actual acting. In a more radical sense it also may trans-form, that is, alter profoundly its (own) formation (and formative configuration) of actual and possible action, opening up for potential alternative pre-formations and per-formances.

Related to all these forms and formative dimensions an Im-Pro-Visation can take place as a further enactment of creative inter-practice transforming habitual structures towards more integral realizations. I am very much convinced that creative and somaesthetic inter-practices can contribute to the emergence and realisation of ingenious and more suitable integral relational practices in and for increasingly complex individual, organisational and managerial settings of current and future leadership. This then may facilitate the cultivating of practical well-being, practical wisdom and integral learning in and of organisations (Küpers, 2005; Küpers, 2007, 2008 ). Moreover, through their unfoldment in organisational life-world, such Integral Leadership practices may also enable or mediate to enact more creative imaginative patterns and prudent inhabitualisations of socio-cultural and even intercultural post-ethnocentric practices towards more integral post-conventional and world-centric orientations.

Furthermore, recognizing the influence of habits and habitus helps also to understand why there is not more integral research, yet.

Moreover, with all these perspectives—and referring back to teaching—what I see becoming more and more relevant is that an Integral Leadership orientation has tremendous practical implications for leadership education and development (as here habits and integrally informed improvisation can be prepared). For example, I have been involved in setting up an integral master course on educating leaders in educational institutions at the University of Oldenburg. The module “Organisation and Leadership” within this MBA program in Education Management uses the integral framework successfully. A colleague of mine is also teaching integrally an intensive blended learning course on a “University Leadership and Management Training Program” (UNILEAD) at the University of Oldenburg in Germany in cooperation with the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and HRK (German Rectors’ Conference) with international participants including those from so called developing countries.

Another example is the pro-integral orientation in a recent text book on research methods, which I use in my course. Bryman (2008 ) provides in his book and the accompanying timely website for students and researchers good reasons for using mixed methods and argues for a kind of alternative orientation with regard to relating quantitative and qualitative research methodologies and methods, beyond the paradigm wars. In his attempt of breaking down the Quantitative/Qualitative divide, understanding barriers to integrating and inviting forms of combining different epistemological and methodological possibilities he offers a proto-integral orientation. As an effect, some students worked out some excellent assignments for research projects in which they are giving proto-integral reasons why they use both methodological approaches.

Nevertheless, while an Integral Leadership is strategically important in teaching as well as in theory and practice, to develop and to apply the same requires diligence, patience and the readiness to invest energy and time into its unfolding. We need to consider that the process of developing Integral Leadership in theory and practice is a long-term project that requires much conceptual effort, open and deep learning, continual updating and modification based on critical feedback, including from “non-integralists”.

Being part of conventional institutional academic settings and set in the current economic situation of increasingly powerful pressures and limiting constraints this all is easier said and demanded than done. But nonetheless, I am still very much convinced that (as mentioned in my article on inter-leadership) if the development of the paradigms and theories in leadership studies reflects the interwoven economic, technological and social changes and cultural development that have and will take place, then an integral thinking of leadership helps to find a relevant, timely but also and future-oriented, more sustainable course for the ‘ship’ with a integrally organized household to sail, setting a different course and exploring new incorporated habitats and thus worlds.

As you said, it is all about engaging complexity. I do look forward to your responses to what I have brought in here and learned about those mentioned key elements in your current thinking. Which doors to you want to open with those keys and in which ways?

Russ: Your reference to “Charybdis and Scylla” was one of the first you made to capture my attention and reflection. To what extent are we caught in the narrow straits between modernity and postmodernity in our explorations? Interesting question, particularly when I consider that at least some of the leaders of integral philosophy would have us believe that our challenge is to transcend and include the challenging truths offered by each. This would suggest that—at least academically and I would suggest that variations on this exist in all domains—our path would induce us to seek the wisdom of Ahura Mazda of Persian fame and adopt his winged trajectories of revealed insight above the threats and temptations of alluring or threatening simplicity.

Yet, in this world we must come to ground and I am highly encouraged by your admonitions to that effect, be it in the worlds of theory, research or practice, including the integration of the learning from each. I do believe that this is one of the wonderful implications of integral theory with its contemporary boddhisatva role model for those who wish to sound the call to action and step immediately into the trenches, themselves.

It does sound to me as though we’re on the same page in terms of the general directions that we need to be taking to bring integral more fully into academia and the worlds of research. I am encouraged that Sean Esjborn-Hargens at JFK University is leading the way in supporting integral methodological pluralism in research, including announcing a $5000 grant to individuals who undertake such efforts. I am looking forward to seeing more examples of these efforts. I will follow through with the reference to Byrne and see what I can cull from it.

It is also exciting to learn about the program in Germany with your colleague at the University of Oldenburg. I wonder if someone might write up a description of this program and any current information about it for the “Notes from the Field” section of Integral Leadership Review. It would be great to have this done by a student of the program. In fact, I would hope that you would encourage your colleagues to consider making their work known to a larger, move diverse audience by publishing articles in the Integral Leadership Review.

Turning to your discussion of habits and improvisation, I wonder if you have read Patricia von Papstein’s discussion of integral play (http://www.integralleadershipreview.com/archives-2009/2009-03/2009-03-article-von-papstein.php). Here she is describing a way of introducing play into leader development. Her work relates very much to the notion of innovation, as does a treatment (forthcoming) of the use of scenario development for both leader and leadership development. The point of the latter is that through scenario development, both individuals and systems are prepared for engaging with ambiguity and uncertainty, conditions that demand improvisation.

As for habits, your discussion touches me where I live. The dynamics of learning and unlearning (which I relate to overcoming old habits) challenge me (and all of us in varying ways) to address my habits. And of course, many habits are reflected in the body through fitness, posture, indices of health, etc. But what I find intriguing about the attention to habits is not only the relevance of attention to habits in leader development, all the more reason not to expect major shifts in leader behaviors to arise out of a weekend workshop or a weeklong seminar. Organizationally, the subject of habits is interesting. Perhaps we could consider many systems and processes in organizations to be encoded habits (at least that is what the advocates of these would hope for). The difficulty of changing systems and processes in organizations is parallel to the difficulty in not only modifying or eliminating old habits, but also adapting new ones. I suppose there is some level of consciousness not subject to habits. I don’t recall seeing a discussion of this, do you?

On the other hand, we also have at least anecdotal accounts of transformational shifts in habit-based behavior. For example, an example that may be more about addition than habit—and I wonder if that distinction is relevant to your work—is my experience in quitting smoking. For years I struggled, off an on for minutes, hours, days and even weeks of not smoking. Then one day, I reached a significant turning point in my life and totally eliminated smoking from my life. That was 12 years ago. No smoking since. We find similar habit shifts in preferring certain foods or liquids, engaging in forms of exercise and practice.

I was a bit of a student of Wilhelm Reich and used neo-Reichian therapeutic techniques, mainly on myself. The connection of Soma with all that we do and be is virtually undeniable. Witness the work of neuroscientists who are seeing brain patterns that reflect thoughts and emotions. Where are the limits of connection and manifestation? So is this relevant to the work you are doing on habits?

And thank you for the reference to Bryman. I will follow up on this primarily because—while not much of a methodologist—I am intrigued with working with PhD students on finding ways to use multiple methodologies in their research. Like so many things integral, a lot has been done by way of theory and concept formulation (not that there isn’t still much to do) and literature searches, while not much has been done in research. This is one of the reasons why we hope to publish integrally influenced dissertations: in effect we will be creating a library of research.

Thus far, most of the research that is being done is not all that different from so much of the research on leadership that is built on observing and interviewing individuals in leader roles. Then, taking the data and formulating patterns in what is found in the interview data. This produces some good material, but has not hit the mark on multiple methodologies. There are a number of academics out there (I have found them at CIIS and ITP) who are looking at the relationship between qualitative and quantitative research while attending as much to the “researcher” as to the participants in the research. Progress?

Wendelin, it seems to me we are taking on swaths of attention-attracting topics by way of introduction. While I welcome your responses to my comments and questions in this material, I hope we can begin with some foundational topics. As potentially sticky as it is, I would like to begin with the problem of meaning in our attempts to comprehend leadership. That is, I want to avoid the common trap of going on and on about leadership without every addressing what we mean by that term or how it differs from the notion of leader and leading—and then all of the attendant distictions that arise. In my next installment, I would like to offer a set of distinctions that may help stimulate that aspect of the dialogue. What say you?

Wendelin: Many thanks for your inspiring comments and open invitation for a continuation of our written conversation here.

Yes, first understanding, then including and transcending the so called pre-modern, modern and post-modern dimensions and worlds (ontologies, epistemologies, truths and orientations/practices) is an ongoing challenge.

Your given association related to the Zoroastrian image of the winged Ahura Mazda resonates with me (partially also because I’m Half-Persian). May the winged symbol represent an adequate fravashi or guardian spirit (i.e., the divine within people) for a truly integral orientation. I hope that the divine Ahura Mazda will be a (post-Nietzscheian) source of intelligence and wisdom for our times and futures to come. (Practically, the car producer Mazda has designed an environmentally friendly bio-car, which I take as a sign of hope).

With regard to that mentioned contemporary bodhisattva (post-Buddhist?) role model
I think we need to clarify what salvation of all sentient-beings means for us today.
In order to prepare the conditions necessary for teaching and practicing any kind of bodhisattva role we need to relieve also material needs, and dealing with external realities and its existing social, political, and economic injustices, warfare, violence, and environmental degradation, and this not only through moral leadership, but also through direct action.

Furthermore, in a way the vow of bodhisattvas to relieve all suffering seems pragmatically impossible because sentient beings are (temporarily at least) limitless. This does not take away the value of aspiring and molding compassionate intentions as this of course in itself beneficial for the practitioner, shaping his or her character that is most conducive toward spiritual goals. But, like in Engaged Buddhism also integral practice needs to consider the relationship between material and moral or spiritual well-be(com)ing.

By the way, according to the mentioned wisdom of Ahura Mazda and many other philosophical and spiritual traditions, happiness is a byproduct of a way of living and is for those who work for the happiness of others.

Bringing integral approaches more fully into academia and the worlds of research is a long-term project, indeed, and I highly appreciate what Sean Esjborn-Hargens and his colleagues are doing. Likewise, we need also to get grants and support by established funding institutions.

Speaking about established institutions, I will ask my colleague to find a student to write about the program on Integral Leadership provided by those German Universities for the “Notes from the Field” section of Integral Leadership Review.

With regard to the relationship between habits and improvisation, many thanks for that link to Patricia von Papstein’s excellent work on integral play (and innovation), which is highly relevant for creative forms and processes of leading and following. How much is leading playing, a serious play for you?

The link you make between the dynamics of learning and unlearning to habit is a very important one. Indeed de- and rehabitualising, getting out of comfort zones is quite challenging and requires a continuous integration of the body and embodied practices.

Indeed many systems and processes in organizations are encoded habits, or habits and habitus structured, like hierarchies and functional programs. You are right that adapting new habits is crucial, which implies the question of how to qualify those (e.g. as healthy or intelligent or proto-integral habits). In my research I found some inspiring sources on the pre-reflexive and reflexive character of habits and how to bring both together. But it would be worthwhile to explore those levels of consciousness, which are not subject to habits. Actually, this is why I relate habits to the relative freedom of improvisation.

Those transformational shifts in habit-based behavior you mentioned show how important rites of passage or turning points (or extended phases of transition) can be!

The integrative connection of Soma, Emotion and Cognition (more in relation to Merleau-Ponty and Shusterman, than in neo-Reichian approaches) is very important for my research on embodied practices. The limits of connection and manifestation you ask about are more due to our Cartesian heritage and self-imposed categories as well as internalized dichotomies than to the actual phenomenal nexus.

Concerning that excellent idea of creating a library of research Markus Molz is setting up a very smart open-source (= free) plug-in browser (called Zotero 2.0 (www.zotero.org), which allows us to share information in a distributed group (of integrally minded people involved in “Boundary-crossing Research” including a group library.

There is some “progress” but also much standstill (and even regress) in terms of the development and conduct of (proto-integral) multiple methodologies and the relationship between qualitative and quantitative research as one facet of integral research. Even much more work is still waiting to be approached from an integral perspective!

Russ, much of what we have started to discuss are already (ways towards) foundational topics, but of course the very meaning to comprehend leadership and forms and practices of integral leader/followership and leading respectively following is basic indeed. In my articles I have developed some suggestions, but I do look forward to your set of distinctions.

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After working for several years in the business world Wendelin Küpers studied economics and business administration at the private University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany and philosophy at the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany. Having finalized his PhD. on a Phenomenology of Service Quality, he was working at the Institute for Leadership and Human Resource Management at the University of St. Gallen, Switzerland, where he also pursued a longer research project on ’demotivation in organizations.’ After that he worked as a Senior Lecturer and Senior Researcher affiliated to the Chair of Business Administration, Leadership, and Organization at the Open University of German in Hagen and taught continously at the University of St. Gallen and University of Innsbruck, Austria. Currently he is affiliated to the Department of Management and International Business, Massey University in Auckland, New Zealand.

In his research he focuses on Integral Leadership and organisation as well as emotional and aesthetic dimensions complemented by issues related to knowledge and learning in and about organizations. Being involved in advanced phenomenological research, he is developing an integral “pheno-practice,” i.e. the practical relevance of an adequate phenomenology for questions related to integral ways of organizing and managing.