Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access

Bringing Purpose to Life: Reflexive Thoughts and Possibilities

Robert James Warwick, Pete Burden


Purpose is an important topic. It comes up regularly in leadership and management conversations. Having a purpose can help, but it can also be tricky. Here we use an autoethnographic approach to illustrate our ideas, arguing against the separation of subjectivity and objectivity, and for a process-oriented way of thinking of purpose in leadership and management.

We pay attention to a tendency to consider purpose as something static, abstract and reified. Despite a natural desire to simplify – and referencing Peirce, Stacey and others – we show that purpose is complex. It is relational – it emerges within, and between, people. Context influences what emerges, and time passing is an important element. Context, the passing of time and local interpretations are important themes in considering the utility of what we might call purpose.


Purpose; process; experience; abduction

Full Text: