An ontology of power and leadership

In this article, I draw upon the social ontologies developed by John Searle, Roy Bhaskar, Margaret Archer, and Tony Lawson in order to distinguish between power and leadership. To do so, I distinguish the different organizing principles behind natural phenomena, collective phenomena and institutional phenomena, and argue that an understanding of that different organizing principles is essential to a clearer conceptualization of power and leadership. Natural power and cultural power, as I argue, depend upon the organizing principles of natural phenomena, and differ depending on whether those organizing principles have been transformed by humans, in which case it becomes cultural power, or not, in which case it simply is natural power. Leadership emerges with the ability of making other humans share mental states through collective intentionality. Institutional power, in contrast, is connected to the creation of a deontology of rights and obligations that provide what Searle calls desire‐independent reasons for action.


About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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