Macquarie University
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Analysing the discourses of leadership as a basis for developing leadership communication skills in a second or foreign language

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posted on 2022-03-28, 02:02 authored by Kevin Knight
A key to understanding leadership is to recognize that leadership is itself a conceptualization drawing on a number of positions, experiences, practices and ideologies. Although many studies present conceptualizations of leadership, they fail to offer accounts of the conceptualization process itself. In this thesis, we offer an account of the leadership conceptualization process. In doing so, we explore the following: 1) how leadership is conceptualized by leaders in semi-structured interviews, and 2) how the conceptualizations of leadership obtained in the interviews with leaders are transformed (i.e., resemiotized) by undergraduate students in Japan in an online forum. The thesis is divided into two interlinked Parts. Part 1 of this thesis explores the narratives concerning the leadership beliefs and communication experiences of 20 leaders drawn from the fields of business, law, government, medicine, sports, counseling, and academia. These narratives were collected through a process of semi-structured interviews (Grindsted, 2005) by Skype (audio only), by telephone, and face to face. Viewing such research interviews in terms of a social practice generating data co-constructed by the interviewer and interviewee (Talmy, 2011), the narratives were then investigated by means of content, narrative and metaphor analyses. Part 2 of this thesis focuses on how findings from Part 1 were applied innovatively in the leadership development curriculum of undergraduate L2 students in the International Business Career (IBC) major in the Department of International Communication (IC) at Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) in Chiba, Japan. Part 2 describes and explains how such program development at KUIS can be said to constitute a nexus of practice (Scollon, 2001) to be analysed in terms of Scollon’s three-step discourse analytical methodology, viz. 1) engaging the nexus of practice, 2) navigating the nexus of practice, and 3) changing the nexus of practice. In Part 2, the IBC students’ conceptualizations of leadership that emerge from the nexus of practice are explored. The thesis concludes with an exploration and reflective discussion of the leadership conceptualization cycle of the instructor/researcher/author of this thesis and its impact on how leadership was taught to the IBC students. In view of that leadership conceptualization cycle, it is argued that project-based learning (PBL) in the context of business case study programs (Knight, 2014 a, b) when implemented prior to, and taught concurrently with, organizational leadership seminars and online fora can serve as a productive approach to teaching leadership.


Table of Contents

1. Introduction -- 2. Leadership -- 3. Methodology -- 4. Content analysis -- 5. Narrative analysis -- 6. Metaphor analysis -- 7. Nexus analysis -- 8. Conceptualizing leadership - reflection and conclusions.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 472-506

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, Department of Linguistics

Department, Centre or School

Department of Linguistics

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Christopher Candlin


Copyright Kevin Knight 2014. Copyright disclaimer:




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