Corporatization of Leadership Education: Why Subjectivity and Agency Matter
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Former Harvard University president Lawrence Summers noted, “nothing will matter
more than the education of future leaders” which is radically different from Harvard’s
seventeenth century mission statement, “to create knowledge [and] to open the minds of
students to that knowledge” (in Kellerman, 2012, p. 155). Leadership training at the
university and as part of our consumer-driven culture seeps into our academic
consciousness. Using authors like Barbara Kellerman, Henry Giroux, Bill Readings, and
Norma Alarcon, I explore leadership’s placement in the university and the glaring lack of
critical appraisal I see around its deployment. More specifically, I contend Barbara
Kellerman’s critique of leadership does not go far enough because it does not address the
concepts of subjectivity and agency. I will critically examine Kellerman’s critique of
leadership, particularly calling on an idea of agency as offered by many women of color
writers who trouble an often unquestioned feminist notion of a unified female subject.
This will enable us to see how leadership is positioned in the university setting and allow
for an exploration of the subjectivity and agency of the leader.