Teaching leaders psychology by a narrative-guided experiential method.

Moxnes, Paul
Norwegian School of Management,
Oslo, Norway

At the Norwegian School of Management, we have, since 1992, taught 1236 Norwegian leaders applied group and personality psychology by the use of a structured experiential method invented by the Institute of Psychology, University of Oslo and further developed by the Norwegian School of Management. The programme runs over 19 days throughout one academic year, costs US$ 4000 to attend, consists of 5 intensive modules (see figure 1) each lasting 3-5 days. In every module the students are allocated to work groups from 4 to12 persons. Every module builds upon the previous ones thus creating a continuous process. It is hypothesized that the programme's educational success lies in our effort to make the individual process isomorphic with the main development stages in a typical hero fairy tale (staging a qualifying, main and confirming test), and to arouse much of the same elementary feelings that folk tales produce (Excitement, Surprise and Curiosity). The programme terminates with two exams giving 10 state granted credits (one standard semester's work) of a part Masters degree in management. The participants are mostly middle management, mean 38 years, 60 % women. One main didactic objective of this programme is to integrate research-based theories in academic psychology with the managers' own job-knowledge and life-experience. Continuous and detailed programme evaluation has been an integrated effort since the start in 1992. Each exercise, lecture, module and the programme as a whole are evaluated by the students filling out a standard evaluating form (figure 2) at the end of each module. This has proved to be a simple and most effective tool for programme development and refinement. During spring 2002 all former participants will receive a questionnaire asking them to evaluate the influence the programme have had upon their personal life, their job-performance and their company in comparison with other psychology programmes/leadership training courses they have attended. There will also be interviews. Based upon earlier and more tentative evaluations (one to three years after programme termination), our hypotheses is that this new one to ten year post-course evaluation will document that the programme 1) conveys a practical knowledge of psychology that surpasses every other applied psychology programme our alumni has attended elsewhere, 2) has an effect of continuous learning that lasts years after termination of the programme, 3) gives evidence for the validity of personal statements such as "the most important thing that has happened to me during my adult life", and 4) has relatively more positive influences upon working life, family relations and the workplace as a whole than any other psychology programmes attended to, included the leading corporate executive programmes in Norway.