A phenomenological study of the use of intuition among senior military commanders

by Cunningham, Glenn K., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2012, 271 pages; 3548926


This study undertook a qualitative approach to explore the interface of intuition and hierarchy. The study examined the experiences and meanings assigned to the use of intuitive judgment by senior military leaders. While intuition is acknowledged as a useful cognitive function in senior leader contexts, little practical study has been undertaken to qualitatively assess reliance on intuition by actual senior-level practitioners. The study followed the transcendental phenomenological methodology envisioned by Clark Moustakas (1994) to investigate experiences and perspectives of leaders at the pinnacle of large, stratified organizations, in this case, general officers within the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps. The study determined that emergent descriptions of intuition as an experientially based, nonrational mode of decision making and problem solving relying on pattern recognition are credible and sound. Co-researchers, when interviewed, displayed consistency in both their use of intuitive judgment and their confidence in its accuracy and utility. In the ambiguous, rapidly changing context of strategic level leadership, leaders perceived intuition as a reliable cognitive tool, in some cases preferable to evidence-based, rational approaches to decision making and problem solving. Conclusions present a synthesis of the results from the study, implications for senior leader development, and recommendations to be considered for further research.

AdviserJohnny Morris
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsManagement; Public administration; Organizational behavior; Military studies
Publication Number3548926

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