Empati: En leders bedste ven? En kandidatafhandling om empatiens betydning for den gode ledelse

Nanna Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


The subject of this thesis originates from an interest for the concept of empathy. In the thesis it is examined how one might understand, and study, good management and empathy, and to what extent empathy is important in contemporary management.The thesis is based on a constructivist reasoning. Thus, the objective is not to achieve any conclusive truths about what good management is, what empathy is, and whether empathy is important to the good manager. However, the thesis takes an explorative approach and attempts to delve into some of the stories that are told on these subjects.The thesis is supported by various contemporary and older theories on management, empirical research in form of both various reports and articles and two interviews with managers, which will assist in the further study of the concepts.In a managerial context, many practitioners and theorists put focus on empathy and emotional intelligence in management. Whether these more emotional qualities are abilities that are important in the making of a good manager is undoubtedly a subject to which there exist some diversity of opinion. This is presumably linked to the dissension on exactly what the emotionally intelligent manager can and cannot do. Often, a clear partitioning is set up between the more dynamic manager and the manager that endeavours to focus on the more ‘soft’ side of management. Applying this either/or approach might explain why some people regard being a manager with focus on emotions as something less positive. Considering many of the contemporary research findings, debates, articles, et.al, it appears that there is an on-going rebellion with the argument that being an empathetic manager implies that it is not possible to be a dynamic manager, and that the empathetic manager is incapable of making difficult decisions and dealing with a given conflict. Some of the gratitude to this development is undoubtedly owed to Daniel Goleman who, with his book ‘Emotional Intelligence’, to a high degree has added the more emotional skills to the agenda.The analysis of the thesis reveals many tendencies pointing in the direction of empathy being essential to contemporary management. In other regards empathy is granted very little significance, and again in other empathy does not appear to be a part of the discussion about good management at all. However, the thesis concludes that many managers, employees, authors, etc. consider empathy in management as being very important.

EducationsMSc in Human Resource Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2011
Number of pages81