PhD defence

The impact of a wilderness-based training program on leadership transformation

PhD candidate Boy van Droffelaar
Promotor prof.dr. VR (Rene) van der Duim
Co-promotor MH (Maarten) Jacobs
Organisation Wageningen University, Cultural Geography, Wageningen School of Social Sciences (WASS)

Thu 29 October 2020 11:00 to 12:30



Nowadays, organization leaders face challenges that demand more than just development of leadership competences. Scholars and practitioners have argued that, at a more fundamental level, a shift in leaders’ mindsets is required. Various scholars suggest that “critical life events”, that is, trigger events that shape people’s lives, are probably an important antecedent of authentic leadership. Furthermore, research suggests that experiencing nature may lead to positive psychological effects. In this PhD project I examined the impact of a wilderness-based training program on leadership transformation. This thesis is based on three empirical studies that analyze leaders’ experiences and ensuing intentions to change, measure the actual impact of the training program on authentic leadership, and examine the role of memories of experiences on their leadership style and changes therein. The studies suggest that the training program is driving a mind-shift in leaders towards a broader and more caring attitude. This is most likely an effect of immersion in nature.