Films as archives of leadership theories: The Terminator film franchise

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The editors of this text asked contributors to imagine all leadership texts had been destroyed, leaving only fragments: what leadership theory might they develop from those fragments? In this chapter I:

I imagine a far distant future from where I can look back at our present as if it is the history of our descendants, as indeed it will be. What might those descendants learn about leadership from our present, and may those lessons become available to us through this thought experiment?

Nothing has survived the destruction of leadership texts, save a few scattered relics that suggest many more must have existed. Films from the second half of the 20th Century have survived, and there appear to be sufficient references to leadership in these to allow us to develop an understanding of how leadership was understood by our ancients. Indeed, films may tell us more about leadership than academic texts: commentators of the time accused academic texts of being inadequate because they privileged rationality and thus failed to account for subjectivities and emotional perspectives. I imagine that the first three films in the Terminator series survive, and analyse them to explore the theories of leadership they may contain. I suggest they show the vulnerability of leadership and the dangers of 'followership' (a word I hate).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAfter Leadership
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor & Francis Group
Publication statusPublished - 5 Oct 2018


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