As the Research and Documentation partner on the Leadership for a Changing World program, RCLA worked with social change leaders to generate new knowledge about the ways in which communities trying to make social change engage in the work of leadership.
Lens: We looked at leadership as a process in which people come together to pursue change, and in doing so, collectively develop a shared vision of the world, making sense of their experience and shaping their decisions and actions.
Focus: We thus focused our attention on the work done by communities towards a common purpose, rather than on the individual leaders or their direct relationship with followers.
Stance: As "engaged scholars" studying leadership from the inside-out, we chose a stance of co-inquiry and co-production, a participative approach of doing research with rather than on leaders and communities.
Methods: RCLA's approach to leadership as a collective achievement and the need to understand the experience of leadership, as opposed to the behaviors and traits of individual leaders, required a multimodal design. RCLA is committed to giving voice to practitioner perspectives, and each of the collaborative methods used brought a different angle to the research and reflected multiple voices from the organizations and communities.
Collaborative and community-based ethnographies were used to create portraits of relationships, practices and processes within which communities engage in the work of leadership over time and in context.
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Award recipients formed inquiry groups of eight to ten members each that focused on an inquiry topic of their choosing and which represented a burning area of learning around their leadership. Groups met five to six times over the course of their inquiry in an action-reflection-action sequence.
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Taking the Action Turn: Lessons from Bringing Participation to Qualitative Research
By Sonia Ospina, Jennifer Dodge, Erica G. Foldy, and Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Handbook of Action Research 2nd Ed., Sage Publications, 2008
From Consent to Mutual Inquiry: Balancing Democracy and Authority in Action Research
By Sonia Ospina, Jennifer Dodge, Bethany Godsoe, Joan Minieri, Salvador Reza and Ellen Schall, Action Research 2:1 (2004) 47-69
Cooperative Inquiry for Learning and Connectedness
By Sonia Ospina, Waad El Hadidy, and Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, Action Learning: Research and Practice, July 2008
The Tapestry of Leadership: Lessons from Six Cooperative Inquiry Groups of Social Justice Leaders
By Lyle Yorks, Arnold Aprill, LaDon James, Anita M. Rees, Amparo Hofmann-Pinilla, and Sonia Ospina, Handbook of Action Research, November 2007
It's About Time:
Catching Method Up to
Meaning - The Usefulness of Narrative Inquiry in Public Administration Research
By Sonia Ospina and Jennifer Dodge, Public Administration Review, March/April 2005
Integrating Rigor and Relevance in Public Administration Scholarship: The Contribution of Narrative Inquiry
By Jennifer Dodge, Sonia Ospina and Erica G. Foldy, Public Administration Review, May/June 2005
Narrative Inquiry and the Search for Connectedness: Practitioners and Academics Developing Public Administration Scholarship
By Sonia Ospina and Jennifer Dodge, Public Administration Review, July/August 2005
Appreciative Narratives as Leadership Research: Matching Method to Lens
By Ellen Schall, Sonia Ospina, Bethany Godsoe, and Jennifer Dodge. Advances in Appreciative Inquiry Vol. 1 (2004) 147-170.