Shifting Focus from Teaching to Learning: Learning Leadership from Improvising Jazz Bands

Patrick Furu

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The nature of knowledge in business schools has been under debate for the past decade. The dual objectives of academic rigor on the one hand, and practical relevance of the knowledge produced and taught have been claimed to be contradictory. Furthermore, conventional sources for new knowledge and ideas for business leadership have been partially replaced by new ones. For example, there is an increasing number of corporate leaders that have brought artists and artistic processes into their companies. These processes may be able to offer novel ways of responding to the growing complexity of our world.
The jazz metaphor has been used widely in the organizational behavior and leadership literature as a novel way of thinking about organizing and managing. It has been claimed that the organization of the future resembles an improvising jazz band [5], as the loose organizational structures enable new innovative ideas to be expressed and tested. In terms of teaching in business schools, it is still not clear how to incorporate the metaphor into the curriculum in a way that is meaningful and that it promotes the active learning of the students.
The aim of this study was to investigate how practicing managers perceive their learning when exposed to an unconventional teaching method, i.e. a facilitated use of an improvising jazz band in a workshop on leadership. The key research question was how different learning style orientations influence the managers’ perceived level of learning from the jazz band pedagogy. Kolb’s Learning Styles Inventory is utilized to study the relationship between learning style orientation on the one hand, and the level of perceived learning on the other. Learning is based on Kirkpatrick’s learning evaluation model. Results indicate that those preferring Concrete Experience and those preferring Reflective Observation experience higher levels of learning.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of Education Conference Proceedings 2011
PublisherSimonelli Editore
Publication date2011
ISBN (Print)978-88-7647-648-8
Publication statusPublished - 2011
MoE publication typeA4 Article in conference proceedings
EventThe Future of Education, International Conference - Florence, Italy
Duration: 16.06.201117.06.2011


  • 512 Business and Management

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