Leadership and negative capability

Peter F. Simpson, Robert French, Charles E. Harvey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Our aim in this article is to explore and explain the concept of 'negative capability', in the context of the current resurgence of interest in organizational leadership. We suggest that negative capability can create an intermediate space that enables one to continue to think in difficult situations. Where positive capability supports 'decisive action', negative capability supports 'reflective inaction', that is, the ability to resist dispersing into defensive routines when leading at the limits of one's knowledge, resources and trust. The development of negative capability is discussed but it is suggested that its status is problematic in the context of a societal and organizational culture dominated by control and performativity. The practice of negative capability is illustrated throughout the article, using a case study of the leadership of an international joint venture.
LanguageEnglish
Pages1209-1226
Number of pages17
JournalHuman Relations
Volume55
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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leadership
joint venture
organizational culture
ability
resources

Keywords

  • leadership
  • negative capability
  • organisational change
  • management

Cite this

Simpson, P. F., French, R., & Harvey, C. E. (2002). Leadership and negative capability. Human Relations, 55(10), 1209-1226. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702055010081
Simpson, Peter F. ; French, Robert ; Harvey, Charles E. / Leadership and negative capability. In: Human Relations. 2002 ; Vol. 55, No. 10. pp. 1209-1226.
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Simpson, PF, French, R & Harvey, CE 2002, 'Leadership and negative capability' Human Relations, vol. 55, no. 10, pp. 1209-1226. https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726702055010081

Leadership and negative capability. / Simpson, Peter F.; French, Robert; Harvey, Charles E.

In: Human Relations, Vol. 55, No. 10, 2002, p. 1209-1226.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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