Becoming a leader: A matter of education?

January 5, 2015

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An International Research and Education Conference on Bachelor Programs in Leadership, Whether Leadership can be Learned, and Leadership as a Profession


Tuesday 16th June (lunch) – Thursday 18th June (lunch) 2015


The conference will be held at the University of Nordland in a city called Bodø, located in Northern Norway (within a province of Norway called Nordland). The university is located around eight kilometers outside the city center.


Lately, some universities (mainly in the U.S.; others are to follow on this trend) have started to offer Bachelor degrees in Leadership (not in management). Behind this phenomenon there is an assumption that leadership is something that can be learnt and, perhaps even more important, that leadership is a subject important enough to major on. The phenomenon also indicates that what a leader mainly needs to know is leadership – not management or knowledge specific to the certain industry. Leadership, thus, might be categorized as a profession in its own right.

This conference is meant to be an arena for knowledge exchange, debate and discussion on, mainly, bachelor programs in leadership, but also on any subject connecting to this issue (please see below for a more extensive list of suggested themes that can be taken up). Attendants can, preferably, submit something that they would like to present at the conference, in terms of a research paper/abstract, an argumentative paper, a program description or an experience-based paper. But please note that those without such submissions are, definitely, also welcome to attend the conference.

The primary group of target is all those scholars who have an interest in leadership education, primarily bachelor programs, and either already give those or consider to start giving them, as well as those who teach at such programs or do research that is more or less tightly connected to such programs. But anyone who has an interest in the main theme or any of the connected themes is most welcome to at-tend the conference. This means that those who, for instance, teach leadership but not at any bachelor program in leadership, leaders/managers who take an interest in the debate on leadership as a profession, consultants and many more, are most welcome to attend this conference.


• Research papers (full paper or abstract) on any of the main or connected conference themes
• Presentation material of bachelor programs in leadership
• Ideas, reflections and argumentations connected to any of the main or connected conference themes


Places on the conference are limited (maximum around 200 participants). However, to make sure that presenters get an opportunity to pay after their submissions have been accepted, we will keep 50 places (of the 200) open for presenters until 31st January 2015. This is intended to give those who might want to attend the conference only if there submission is accepted a chance to wait to pay until they have been informed about our decision in this regard.

Please note that by submitting any kind of material where your bachelor program is presented or the like, you automatically give us the right to use and spread your material.


All relevant contributions submitted to the conference will be considered for an edited book, in terms of an “academic debate” that discusses whether or not there is reason to turn Leadership/Management into a true profession.


Submitted descriptions/presentations of (or experiences from or plans for) bachelor programs in leadership will be put together in electronic form and circulated among those who have attended the conference, and also, somehow, made accessible to other than those who have attended the conference.


The conference is organized by people at the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Nordland.


To be formally registered as an attendant of the conference, you must pay the conference fee (please note that you are not registered until we have received the full payment).  The conference fee for the main conference (to be held 16th-18th June 2015) is 3,950 NOK (Norwegian kroner) (early bird rate 3,500 NOK, until 20th January 2015).

Included in the fee is:
• Permission to attend the main conference
• Lunches Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday
• Coffee/tea/water & refreshments during the conference
• Transportation: bus between Scandic Havet Hotel and the university (which is the actual conference venue) and back, on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday (on Thursday p.m. the bus will make a short stop at the hotel and then continue to the airport)
• Excursion with dinner Tuesday evening
• Conference dinner at Scandic Havet Hotel on Wednesday evening


On all matters that concern the very conference and, especially, the program and presentations as well as acceptances of submitted papers/presentations, please contact Anders Örtenblad []

In Chess, Carlsen keeps mum. In Cricket, Cook tells all?

November 14, 2013

In the build-up to the chess world championships Magnus Carlsen refuses to reveal who his support staff are. In Cricket, Australian captain Clarke says England’s captain kindly revealed his Cricket team to him. What’s all that about?

Two little stories about leadership, one from Chess, one from Cricket.

In India there are two sports stories this week about all-time greats. Sachin Tendulkar is playing his last international cricket match; and Viswanathan [‘Vishy’] Anand is defending his chess crown against the new chess prodigy and Norwegian ‘pawn star’ Magnus Carlsen.

Chess trends on Twitter

Yesterday, the official website of FIDE, the international chess organization, announced that chess had become the number one news item of all stories trending on Twitter. The rise of Indian chess owes much to Anand, who has help five world championships (if you include rapid play ones). Carlsen is being hailed as a mega-star who is bringing attention to chess globally .

Magnus keeps mum

At a pre-match press conference, the players were asked out their support teams. Vishy spoke glowingly of his back-up team who help in preparing openings and in studying the play of his opponent. The twenty two year old Magnus thanked him for the information but politely declined the invitation to respond.

Cook tells all

Half way around the world, Australia is hosting their fiercest cricket rivals England. In a remarkable press conference Australia captain Michael Clarke says England’s captain Alistair Cook has revealed the England team to him a week in advance of the test.

What’s all that about?

Vishy says that the players ‘exchanged information’ only after playing the first game. The rest could be no more than mis-information. The same might be true of whatever Cook did or did not say to Clarke.

Was Cook [or Clarke] being a silly billy?

We seem to be entering the region of mind games. Chess is the more obvious mind game, but more many athletes and sporting coaches have gone in for psychological warfare. I have trouble believing the headline that Cook told Clarke the names of the team for the forthcoming test.

Maybe Clarke is trying to make Cook look like a silly billy.

Getting to Norway

December 17, 2012

Oslo City Hall Pipervika ViewThe award of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize was made in Norway to the institution known as the European Union. The ironies were not lost on Norwegians who repeatedly reject membership of the EU

by Tudor Rickards

The Independent has been one of the few newspapers in the UK supportive of the EU’s vision [if not of all its practices]. However, its view of the Nobel Peace prize award [Monday 10th December 2012] was distinctly on the chilly side. I have made some abbreviations to the following which I hope captures the sense of the original:

Broad smiles bedecked the faces of European Council President, Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz as they took their seats along with the Nobel Committee chairman, Thorbjorn Jagland, on the podium. Twice [in 1972 and 1994] the country rejected referendums to join the EU hooley. And has Norway been thus left in the economic cold? Has it hell.

The EU chiefs may be in town for the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union, but Norway nonetheless regards it with the sort of suspicion usually reserved for chaps flogging phials of snake-oil from a tatty suitcase. Thanks to oodles of natural resources – petrol, gas and minerals, plus a national mindset which essentially votes into the power the most frugal party that promises to spend the least amount of money – Norway is loaded.

So, given the ongoing knife-fights in Brussels over how to deal with the savage recession which lies like an iron blanket over most (if not all) of the 27 member countries, it’s no wonder that Norwegians want no truck with the EU – although, thanks to various economic agreements, the country enjoys quite a few of its single market trade perks.

Moreover, there are many folks outside Norway who are still scratching their heads over the decision to award the peace prize to the EU. Mr Barroso acknowledged that the current turmoil showed the union was “not fully equipped to deal with a crisis of this magnitude. We do not have all the instruments for a true and genuine economic union … so we need to complete our economic and monetary union”.

A few hours later, a few hundred people gathered in the bitter cold under a banner which read, ‘No Peace Prize For Our Time’, to make a torchlight procession past the hotel where the EU officials were staying. Among them was Oslo woman Elsa Ender, who is one of a group called Grandmothers for Peace.

“We do not think the EU are worthy winners,” she explained. “The Nobel Prize is supposed to be given to those who work for disarmament, but the EU are warmongers”.

A Fishy Tale from Norway

June 26, 2012

The contrary forces of innovation, Thomas Hoholm, Palgrave, ISBN 978 0 230 28366 4, 2011

Reviewed by Tudor Rickards

From time to time, a book for reviewing produces the response “Yes. That’s how it was for me too!” For me, this is one such book. It describes in rich detail and analysis a case study of the processes of innovative new product development. The environment of research and development (R&D) is beautifully captured.

Norway’s Blue/Green Strategy

The story has been described as a spin-off from the “Green Blue” strategy in Norway, which backed research into fisheries (blue) and agriculture (green). The specific innovations are traced to the research of a Professor Erik Slinde who was interested in industrializing Norway’s fish harvesting.

With entrepreneurial flair he hit on the idea of producing a fish-based salami. If you think that’s crazy get the book. If you think it’s a great idea, get the book. The little triumphs and disasters on the journey are convincingly reported.

Beyond a linear model of innovation

In his introduction, the author illustrates his departure from the traditional linear models of innovation as rather deterministic processes. Rather, he supports the notion of “path creation…that is known by a number of useful terms [including]: contingency, situatedness, relationality, heterogeneity, and co-creation” [page 1].

Hoholm argues that the management of innovation requires recognition of “a pluralistic power structure of leadership” [page 13].

Networks, paradoxes and dilemmas

This leads to an approach which examines innovation at the level of networks of interaction:

Corporate relationships shape and yet restrict or bound change

It is equally valid to say that a company defines relationships or that the company is defined by those relationships

Control of a network is desired but can become destructive

Actor Network theory

The author also draws on actor network theory, ANT, pioneered among others by Bruno Latour. Hoholm considers ANT “not so much a theory as an empirical and analytical methodology” [page 21].

He sees Latour’s work as a treatment which by-passes the agency/structure debate in social science in favour of a ‘circulating entity’ [page 22]. In more everyday terms, innovation like other social phenomena cannot be split into two entities such as agents and structures in search of causal explanations. This contrasts with much of popular explanations of innovation ‘caused’ by an individual, or an initiating idea triggering a linear sequence of consequences.

Why read this book?

I hope I have indicated why the book has appeal for researchers into innovation processes as well as a wider audience interested in how to conduct research in the social sciences