The Leadership Institute is committed to the advancement of knowledge about leadership and leadership development via the application of empirical methods grounded in integral theory. The integral “all-quadrant, all-level” perspective (see Wilber, 2000) requires a focus on both subjective (including spiritual) and objective realms of experience, with a lens capable of holding simultaneously, individual, collective, and systemic dimensions of phenomena. Typical human science methodologies, because of their focus on only attitudes and behavior, are not broad enough for this task. What is needed is a methodology that can also rigorously explore human subjectivity.

We believe that Q-methodology, developed by William Stephenson (1953), is appropriate for this purpose. Q-methodology is a projective method in which subjects are asked to prioritize a set of statements along a structured continuum according to those they most and least agree with. The results are analyzed using a by-person factor analysis that permits researchers to explore nuances in the subjectivity of subjects on a given topic. In collaboration with Dr. Robert Lipgar, a pioneer in integrating Q-methodology studies in group relations conferences (see, for example, Lipgar, Bair, and Fichtner, 2004), we are implementing studies to assess our own and students’ subjectivities around leadership, and the effects of training experiences on these beliefs. Dr. Lipgar will head a research team that will study our January 2006 conference.

Secondly, we are currently studying the experiences of Latinos in leadership development programs. In 1990 about 9% or 22.4 million Americans were Latino and this estimate is projected to increase to 59 million by 2030. Most Latinos/as are of Mexican descent (61%) identify socio-politically as “Chicano/a” (social activists) and represent the largest minority group in California. They are often placed on the margins organizationally. Over the last three years we have been fortunate to have a critical mass of Chicanos/Latinos in the membership of Group Relations Conferences conducted by the Institute. We have been struck with how little is known about the experiences and the impact of Chicanos/Latinos in Group Relations Conferences. We are in the unique position to systematically explore the Chicano/Latino experience among staff and members who participate in our conferences.

Finally, we are studying the role of adult development in leadership and leadership training. We are currently working with Jane Loevinger’s (1998) Washington University Sentence Completion Test (WUSCT) to assess “ego development”—conceived of broadly as one’s overall cognitive/emotional perspective—in order to create more developmentally appropriate educative experiences for persons with whom we work. We are impressed by the empirical roots of the WUSCT and extensive research, including cross-cultural and national studies, that has confirmed its reliability and validity.


Lipgar, R.M., Bair, P., & Fichtner, C. (2004). Integrating research with Group Relations conferences: Challenges, insights, and implications. In S. Cytyrnbaum and D. A. Noumair (Eds.), Group dynamics, organizational irrationality, and social complexity: Group relations reader 3 (pp. 417-447).

Loevinger, J. (Ed.). (1998). Technical foundations for measuring ego development. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Stephenson, W. (1953). The study of behavior. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago.

Wilber, K. (2000). A theory of everything. Boston, MA: Shambhala.