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Faculty & Research


Historical Consciousness in Executive Education Programs: Engaging With Transgenerational Collective Traumas

Journal Article
A call for a larger consideration of history in management and organization studies suggests a fresh responsibility for business schools to develop historically conscious leaders. As the world is increasingly challenged by social and economic events, organizational actors must better understand and manage inherent emotions and not be limited by bounded rationality. By teaching the transgenerational transmission of collective traumas to two cohorts in an internationally renowned business school in Europe and in Asia, this study explores how historical consciousness can be construed in the context of an executive educational program and the learning consequences of this process over two years. The authors' findings distill five themes describing the executives’ learnings. First, the intervention allowed the participants to experience historical consciousness through (a) personal connections with collective traumas, (b) awareness of the effects of the transgenerational transmission of collective traumas, and (c) the development of narrative competence. After two years, the participants identified two additional learnings in their organizational contexts: (d) they became more aware of how they manage their emotions, and (e) they identified perceived changes in their role as leaders. The authors propose that business schools encourage historical consciousness to better equip individuals in their roles as executives and leaders.

Affiliate Professor of Organisational Behaviour