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Leading Critically: A Grounded Theory of Applied Critical Thinking in Leadership Studies
Journal of Leadership Education (2011)
  • Daniel Jenkins, University of Southern Maine
  • Amanda Cutchens, University of South Florida

This study describes the development of a grounded theory of applied critical thinking in leadership studies and examines how student-centered experiential learning in leadership education bridged critical thinking with action. Over three semester undergraduate students in an upper level leadership studies course at a large four-year public institution in the southeastern United States completed a written assignment in which they were asked to define the concept of “leading critically.” A grounded theory of critical leadership – utilizing critical thinking skills to make decisions about leadership actions in different situations – emerged after completing a qualitative document analysis of these papers and incorporating the researchers’ existing knowledge of leadership and student development theory. The hope is that this research will create dialogue concerning new approaches to leadership education and encourage practices that apply critical thinking skills to leadership.

  • leadership education,
  • leadership studies,
  • critical thinking,
  • grounded theory
Publication Date
Summer 2011
Citation Information
Daniel Jenkins and Amanda Cutchens. "Leading Critically: A Grounded Theory of Applied Critical Thinking in Leadership Studies" Journal of Leadership Education Vol. 10 Iss. 2 (2011)
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