The Leadership Imagination

The Leadership Imagination

An Introduction to Taxonomic Leadership Analysis

New Horizons in Leadership Studies series

Donald R. LaMagdeleine

In the interest of reimagining leadership as a highly contextual activity with moral overtones, LaMagdeleine argues for blending sociology and history of religions scholarship in leadership analysis of black swan leadership dilemmas. His analysis introduces the term “leadership imagination” to describe the resulting approach.

Chapter 7: Global fundamentalist violence, Islamic and otherwise

Donald R. LaMagdeleine

Subjects: politics and public policy, leadership, social policy and sociology, sociology and sociological theory


This chapter analyzes fundamentalist violence as an international leadership issue. Although it is commonly associated with Islamic Fundamentalism, such violence is part of a much broader phenomenon that encompasses nativist, racist, and neo-Nazi movements in Europe, the USA, and elsewhere. The discussion starts with the historical implications of the Sunni-Shia divide and European colonialism in the Middle East, but focuses on the roots of Sunni fundamentalism and its contemporary manifestations in al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS). Following a taxonomic analysis of its assumptions, the chapter uses both Goffman’s dramaturgy and Bourdieu’s constructivist structuralism to decipher the intense focus of Islamic Fundamentalism on female modesty and its implications for women. However, in broader terms contemporary fundamentalism’s biggest target is global capitalism as framed by the field of neoliberalism. In “leadership imagination” terms, neoliberalism is a global quasi-religion whose ritualistic practices and unshakeable mythic assumptions defy all counter-evidence documenting its Procrustean “cures” that enable killing the patient for the sake of ideological purity. At the international level, the chapter concludes with analysis of how international agencies and organizations charged with international finance and economic aid operate, with specific reference to the Greek fiscal crisis. It does much the same with the European Union response to the migrant crisis. Next, the discussion of specific implications for positional leaders turns to France, whose colonial history in North Africa complicates its accommodation of Algerian immigrants amidst growing unrest on the right. Finally, the chapter suggests concrete steps that a principal in a French high school with a significant percentage of Muslim students might take in the interest of serving all students while upholding the legitimacy of national allegiance to the principle of la'cité.

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