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Dissertation Abstract

Compathic Leadership: A Qualitative Study to Examine the Cascading Effects of Compassion and Empathy on the Emotional Labor of Authentic Leaders

Eric T. Scalise
October 2007

This study identified a significant gap in the literature base and demonstrated the emotional labor of leaders has never been studied at any depth. Constructs impacting the leadership paradigm such as spirituality, authenticity, compassion, and empathy were reviewed as influential determinants when it comes to leadership effectiveness. Two primary assumptions were put forward: (a) leaders will generate emotional labor if they ascribe to these characteristics, and (b) the primary motivational antecedents are internally-based values as opposed to externalized structures or expectations. A phenomenological research design utilizing interviews with 12 business owners offered an appropriate first step to better understand the lived experience of compathic leaders and to help establish basic meaning making on the central emotional labor construct. Analysis of the data supported the principle hypothesis in the study and showed that not only do leaders experience emotional labor much like other stakeholders, but that the primary motivational factors to do so are internal processes tied directly to their values and beliefs. This study makes a contribution to the existing literature regarding the cascading effects of authentic and compathic leadership dynamics on emotional labor and also provides a springboard for ongoing research in this important area.