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Profaning the sacred in leadership studies: a reading of Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase

Sliwa, M and Spoelstra, S and Sorensen, BM and Land, C (2012) 'Profaning the sacred in leadership studies: a reading of Murakami's A Wild Sheep Chase.' Organization, 20 (6). pp. 860-880. ISSN 1350-5084

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The leadership literature is full of stories of heroic self-sacrifice. Sacrificial leadership behaviour, some scholars conclude, is therefore to be recommended. In this paper we follow Keith Grint's (2010) conceptualization of leadership as necessarily pertaining to the sacred, but we highlight the need for organization scholars to profane (Agamben, 2007) the sacralizations embedded in leadership thinking. One example of this, which guides us throughout the paper, is 'A Wild Sheep Chase', by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. By means of a thematic reading of the novel, we discuss how it can contribute to profaning particular notions of sacrifice and the sacred in leadership thinking and how it points to a radical inversion of the relation between sacrifice and leadership. In the novel, self-sacrifice does not function as a way of establishing a leadership position, but to avoid the dangers associated with leadership, and possibly redeem humans from their current collective urge to become leaders. Inspired by Murakami's fictional example, we call organizational scholars to profane leadership thinking and, in doing so, open new vistas for leadership theory and practice.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Leadership; Literary fiction; Profanation; Sacred; Sacrifice
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor > HD28 Management. Industrial Management
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 30 Aug 2012 09:17
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:22

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