Many people who know me as a professor and researcher are often surprised that I also lead and play music with a jazz/early rock/horn band called Neon Swing X-perience. Likewise, many people that know me as the vocalist and trumpet player for the band might also be surprised of my academic career. Yet, through many years I’ve tried to balance both roles and this summer was no exception. While I taught a summer class, helped to effectively recruit one of the largest classes our Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program has welcomed and worked on a half dozen research publications, I also found time to tour with the band.
Recently, Dr. Gail Fairhurst (a friend, mentor and colleague of mine from the University of Cincinnati) visited Saint Vincent to give a guest lecture on her research. While her comments were primarily about how to be an effective leader through focusing on communication style, she also talked about the nature of problems that leaders must solve. I am reminded of some research of hers that I read in which she identifies problems as “wicked” when they are challenging to describe, difficult to solve and closely related to other problems. She and her colleagues term these to be problem “knots” because they are often tangled together in such a way that multiple problems relate to, confuse and add to each other (Sheep, Fairhurst, & Khazanchi, 2017).
Over the past several weeks, I’ve been working on co-editing a three-book series on leadership. The first book focuses on leadership theory. Thus, I’ve recently been reflecting on the importance of theory in academia.
In my May blog, I shared with you one way in which students in the McKenna School systematically examine the ethicality of decisions on the basis of various moral frameworks. While students have many other assignments in which they further refine their own moral principles throughout their studies at Saint Vincent, analyzing decisions made by others is useful in shaping a student’s viewpoint.
Topics: leadership, leadership in college, effective leadership, professor, lifelong learning, blog, saint vincent professor, st. vincent professor, Faculty Blog, mike urick, Dr. Mike Urick, decision making
Most Ph.D. programs require that doctoral candidates pass a comprehensive exam prior to writing their dissertation. Ph.D. stands for “doctor of philosophy” and the “philosophy” that the doctoral candidate studies is typically the viewpoint of a particular specific academic discipline. In my case, I studied the “philosophy” of the management and organizational behavior (with concentrations in human resources and communication) academic disciplines at the University of Cincinnati. In my program, our comprehensive exams were structured like this: students chose to answer one of two questions in a secondary sub-field within management and two of three questions in their primary area of study within management. Students had four hours to answer each question and this portion of the exam took two days. Mid-week, students had a day break before being given a 48-hour portion of the exam where they had to evaluate a piece of research from their primary field, analyze the major findings, articulate what was well-done about the research and suggest what could be improved upon.