Moderate Bravery: Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling

Klaus Majgaard

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The ability to act in a purposeful and effective way amid institutional tensions and paradoxes is, right now, a highly prized quality in public leadership. The purpose of this chapter is to qualify moderately brave acts as a learning format that combines the analytical and performative skills implied in this kind of agency.
Design/methodology/approach: The chapter explores the engagement with paradoxes as a narrative praxis. From existing literature, it sums up an understanding of agency as a social process of mediating paradoxes in order to make action possible. Drawing on Northrop Frye’s theory of modes, the chapter explains this praxis as a narrative endeavour balancing the dynamics of tragedy (disintegration) and comedy (integration). Moderately brave acts are formed as a kind of low-mimetic synthesis – very much akin to comedy and realistic fiction. The narrative dynamics of low-mimetic synthesis are pursued in the case story of Christian, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) student from Copenhagen.
Findings: Moderately brave acts appear as a learning format that can inspire a less idealised, but not entirely ironic approach to the paradoxes of management. In this way, they can foster a nuanced and pragmatic agency that combines analytical reflexivity with the ability to take practical action in problematic situations.
Practical implication: The chapter may inspire teachers to use narrative techniques to allow students to deal with real problems of daily praxis in a way that embraces the tension between idealisation and deconstructive irony.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDeveloping Public Managers for a Changing World
EditorsKlaus Majgaard, Jens Carl Ry Nielsen, John W. Raine, Bríd Quinn
Number of pages25
Volume5
Place of PublicationBingley
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing
Publication date2016
Pages205-229
ISBN (Print)9781786350800
ISBN (Electronic)9781786350794
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016
SeriesCritical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management
Volume5
ISSN2045-7944

Keywords

  • Public management
  • Paradox
  • Narrative
  • Agency
  • Experiments
  • Management development

Cite this

Majgaard, K. (2016). Moderate Bravery: Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling. In K. Majgaard, J. C. Ry Nielsen, J. W. Raine, & B. Quinn (Eds.), Developing Public Managers for a Changing World (Vol. 5, pp. 205-229). Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol.. 5 https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-794420160000005011
Majgaard, Klaus. / Moderate Bravery : Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling. Developing Public Managers for a Changing World. editor / Klaus Majgaard ; Jens Carl Ry Nielsen ; John W. Raine ; Bríd Quinn. Vol. 5 Bingley : Emerald Group Publishing, 2016. pp. 205-229 (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 5).
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Majgaard, K 2016, Moderate Bravery: Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling. in K Majgaard, JC Ry Nielsen, JW Raine & B Quinn (eds), Developing Public Managers for a Changing World. vol. 5, Emerald Group Publishing, Bingley, Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, vol. 5, pp. 205-229. https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-794420160000005011

Moderate Bravery : Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling. / Majgaard, Klaus.

Developing Public Managers for a Changing World. ed. / Klaus Majgaard; Jens Carl Ry Nielsen; John W. Raine; Bríd Quinn. Vol. 5 Bingley : Emerald Group Publishing, 2016. p. 205-229 (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 5).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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AB - Purpose: The ability to act in a purposeful and effective way amid institutional tensions and paradoxes is, right now, a highly prized quality in public leadership. The purpose of this chapter is to qualify moderately brave acts as a learning format that combines the analytical and performative skills implied in this kind of agency.Design/methodology/approach: The chapter explores the engagement with paradoxes as a narrative praxis. From existing literature, it sums up an understanding of agency as a social process of mediating paradoxes in order to make action possible. Drawing on Northrop Frye’s theory of modes, the chapter explains this praxis as a narrative endeavour balancing the dynamics of tragedy (disintegration) and comedy (integration). Moderately brave acts are formed as a kind of low-mimetic synthesis – very much akin to comedy and realistic fiction. The narrative dynamics of low-mimetic synthesis are pursued in the case story of Christian, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) student from Copenhagen.Findings: Moderately brave acts appear as a learning format that can inspire a less idealised, but not entirely ironic approach to the paradoxes of management. In this way, they can foster a nuanced and pragmatic agency that combines analytical reflexivity with the ability to take practical action in problematic situations.Practical implication: The chapter may inspire teachers to use narrative techniques to allow students to deal with real problems of daily praxis in a way that embraces the tension between idealisation and deconstructive irony.

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Majgaard K. Moderate Bravery: Learning Through Mundane Experiments and Storytelling. In Majgaard K, Ry Nielsen JC, Raine JW, Quinn B, editors, Developing Public Managers for a Changing World. Vol. 5. Bingley: Emerald Group Publishing. 2016. p. 205-229. (Critical Perspectives on International Public Sector Management, Vol. 5). https://doi.org/10.1108/S2045-794420160000005011