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Durham e-Theses
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Social learning of strategic leadership: The role of classroom-based
leadership training/education in the ‘becoming’ processes
of senior police commanders as strategic leaders

TANG, HOW-KONG (2015) Social learning of strategic leadership: The role of classroom-based
leadership training/education in the ‘becoming’ processes
of senior police commanders as strategic leaders.
Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This is an empirical study that aims to gain a deep understanding of the ‘becoming’ processes of senior police commanders as strategic leaders, particularly the role of classroom-based leadership training/education in those processes. The context examined in this study is the Hong Kong Police Force (the Force), which has a working strength of around 33,000 staff including 28,000 sworn officers. The 18 participants were all commissioner rank officers, most of whom joined the Force in the 1960s-1970s.

This study adopts a constructivist ontological assumption and an interpretive paradigm. Using an adapted grounded theory methodology, the research data collected through in-depth interviews were deconstructed, analysed and reconstructed to allow a sophisticated understanding of their strategic leadership development processes. The central theme, i.e., social learning is both a key feature of those processes and an important facet of classroom-based leadership training/education, is grounded in the lived experiences shared by the participants.

The findings of this study show that while the participants learned to become leaders from many different sources, classroom-based leadership training/education played a significant role in their ‘becoming’ processes. More specifically, compared with other sources of learning, classroom-based training/education provided them a safe learning environment that facilitated co-creation of knowledge with other course participants, activating all three levels of learning, i.e., the single-loop learning involved in acquiring new knowledge, the double-loop learning involved in broadening one’s breadth of thinking, and the triple-loop learning (transformational learning) involved in acquiring a new self-identity.

This study also identifies a number of important factors that might have affected their learning outcomes including the background of co-participants, mode of delivery, venue location and personal leadership experience of the teachers. Based on these findings, the author argues that strategic leadership development is a complex social learning process involving both cognitive and affective domains, and that the common practice of focusing primarily on the former by mainstream leadership researchers reflects questionable ontological and epistemological assumptions.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:social learning, strategic leadership, co-creation of knowledge
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:20 Apr 2015 09:55

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