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Behind the scenes in the identity laboratory

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This study examined written narratives of 28 participants’ experience in one executive leadership development programme, to shed light on the way they explore and experiment with new working identities in the leadership development identity laboratory. It adopted a mixed-method approach. A series of six programme-related case studies per individual was analysed, written over a period of 15 months. Findings from this study were presented to the group after the end of the programme. As the author was also a participant in the programme, the methodology was qualitative and hermeneutic, with the author using “self as instrument”. The narratives were studied through a conceptual interpretation approach. They show participants moving through an epigenic process similar to group psychotherapy. The study shows that group psychotherapy can be adapted to create an identity laboratory experience for executives, and that the process of writing can be a critical success factor in executives’ passage through an identity lab experience.

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