Valerie Nishi, School of Human and Organizational Development
In complex organizational systems, there grows a need for more effective design practices for learning and leadership development. This exploratory case study research improves knowledge and understanding of how aesthetic factors (creation of symbolic objects and acts) influences the experiences of five executive leaders in a leadership development program. Perspectives from organizational studies, transformative learning, and organizational aesthetics provide a theoretical framework for understanding aesthetics and learning. Findings from this study suggest that aesthetic factors can be powerful catalysts for transformative learning for individuals and groups. Aesthetic factors appear to function as a learning technology to access and integrate often intense and conflicting sensory, emotional, somatic, and cognitiveways of knowing in a dynamic relational learning process. As mediators of meaning, aesthetic factors give form and clarity to complex phenomena; stimulate theimagination; generate enjoyment; and accelerate learning through prototyping, storytelling, and co-inquiry. Aesthetic factors demonstrate memorability that supportsembodied learning. A framework for aesthetic learning design is offered as a contribution of this study.
Key words: Leadership development, professional development, organizational aesthetics, organizational development, organizational learning, transformative learning, experiential learning, aesthetic learning, holistic learning, innovation