Managing the monsters of doubt: liminality, threshold concepts and leadership learning
In this article we argue that management and business undergraduate students who are engaged in learning about leadership occupy a liminal space or state of between-ness. Drawing on anthropological conceptualizations of liminality in which those undergoing liminal rituals must grapple with symbolic monsters, we point to the experience of doubt and uncertainty as ‘monsters’ with which students must come to terms. We link this to scholarship that characterises dealing with uncertainty as a central element of leadership practice. Drawing on notions of ‘threshold concepts’, we suggest that students experience the monster of doubt as they progress in their learning experience and that there are a number of potential ways students might ‘think like a leadership scholar’. We set out some opportunities for leadership educators to engage students with threshold concepts as they seek to become familiar with ‘doubt’ as central to the study and practice of leadership. Applying a liminality framework to the understanding of threshold concepts helps to identify threshold concepts as crucial to learning, infused with cultural assumptions, and situated within an understanding of the student experience.
vol. 46, no. 1, pp 24-43