Behind the Scenes of Artful Leadership: Exploring Artful Practices in Art and Business

Anna Laura Rolin

Student thesis: Master thesis


This master’s thesis explores the field of artful leadership, adding to the existing theory, empirical insights on the conceptualisations, inclinations and practices from artists and artful leaders themselves. The research will follow a methodological framework of qualitative research constituted by elements inspired by sensory ethnography, asserting that examining how leadership might be practiced artfully requires a sensory framework in order to explore experiences and perceptions that are produced in encounters with the artful. The research includes six in-depth, face-to-face interviews with respondents on both sides of arts and business as well as an observatory study of a staged meeting between the arts and and organization – a so-called artistic intervention. The thesis opens up with an introduction to the emergence of artful leadership, and how it is entangled with art and aesthetics as framed within a general aestheticization of society. Drawing on the described experiences, perspectives and thoughts, the thesis gathers a range of conceptualisations of art and the artful. Next, based on this, the thesis proceeds to examine the particular practices and actions that are related to this through the experiences of artists, leaders and professional facilitators of partnerships between artists and businesses. Moreover, in examining the practices and procedures of bringing in arts in organization, insights are drawn from a case of an orchestrated meeting between the arts and its seemingly opposite other, the agriculture domain. The research captures practices and inclination at different levels, including risk, embodied skills, seeking potential, engaging emotions and reflections, as well as a fundamental strive for authenticity, wholeness and making an impact. This opens up a final discussion of emergent tensions and potential implications of artful leadership and points to the immanent power tensions in the field.

EducationsMsc in Business Administration and Philosophy, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages82
SupervisorsTimon Beyes