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Dissertation Abstract

Love and Organizational Leadership: An Intertexture Analysis of 1 Corinthians 13

Catherine L. Stevens Self
April 2009

This inductive, qualitative research study explores the construct of love within the context of organizational leadership as demonstrated in the writings of Paul to the Corinthian church. This study further seeks to identify factors that may contribute to a definition of love in leadership and answers the research question: How do passages from the Christian sacred text of 1 Corinthians 13 contribute to an understanding of the construct of love in organizational leadership? The research method employed in this study emerges from the theoretical approach of hermeneutics as described by Patton (2002), using sociorhetorical critical analysis (Robbins, 1996a) as the interpretative method with a focus on the intertextuality of the Christian sacred text of 1 Corinthians 13. Following Robbins' (1996b) recommended framework, separate analyses included (a) oral–scribal, (b) cultural, (c) social, and (d) historical intertextual analysis. Ten themes emerged from the data, suggesting Paul, as an exemplar of love (agapé) demonstrated through leadership, (a) engaged followers in familiar ways, (b) challenged the status quo, (c) provided a practical guiding principle, (d) redefined behavioral response, (e) emerged from authentic example, (f) was unifying, (g) was global in perspective, (h) offered viability and sustainability, (i) modeled both ontology and praxis, and (j) was a reliable source and example of leadership. In the context of contemporary leadership, leaders who lead others from love (agapé), as was modeled by Paul, (a) create connections with followers, (b) passionately stand against wrong with honesty and compassion, (c) engender mutuality and community (d) respond naturally from the internalized Spirit of God, (e) authentically exemplify integrity of self, (f) demonstrate equal regard for self and others, (g) are inviting and accessible to all, (h) create dependable and sustainable individual results, (i) act from an authentic presence of incarnational love, and (j) offer a viable model for contemporary leadership. A discussion about the research findings and implications for contemporary organizational leadership is included as well as potential study limitations and possible future research related to this topic.