The role of reflection in leader identity formation in small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME)

by Resnik, David A., Ph.D., CAPELLA UNIVERSITY, 2013, 328 pages; 3593145


Researchers have attributed a person's self-identity as a leader to the process of reflection, a component of learning processes, and argued that well-formed identities of owner-managers (OMs) in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are critical to SME viability. Recent literature suggested that a cause of OMs' weak managerial skills is weakness in the practice of reflective behavior. The purpose of this study was to understand how and to what extent OMs engage in various practices of reflection in the workplace through examination of how they developed leader identities and skills of reflection. This qualitative study employed grounded theory research approach, relying on semi-structured interviews with eleven individuals. The author coded and analyzed interview transcripts using NVivo software. Findings suggest that OMs conflate the notion of leadership skills, which any employee may use, with administrative or managerial skills that supervisory personnel utilize throughout an organization. The author theorizes that OM leader identity formation engages learning and reflection processes in two contexts, one internal and one external, where different perceptual conflicts influence identity development. An OM's self-efficacy is the critical component that interacts with these constructs and with individual identity characteristics in the identity formation process. Work-life balance appears to be more than a symptom of OM challenges and may reflect a more fundamental aspect of how OMs should conceptualize the roles of their multiple identities as individuals and as professionals. The outcome of the study provides guidance for planners of leader training programs for OMs and SMEs who should recognize that identity issues are integral to their clients' training needs.

AdviserRobert Hockin
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsSocial psychology; Management; Organizational behavior
Publication Number3593145

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