Synchronicity and Leadership

Philip Merry

    Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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    World’s First PhD to Research Synchronicity And Leadership Using Grounded Theory
    OUT OF THE BLUE COINCIDENCES: research topic
    Most people have had the experience of thinking of someone and then, almost magically have that someone contact them soon after. This is called Synchronicity, and it is the experience of having something or someone turn up in one's life, which seems to give meaning to current questions or issues and is an experience common to many people. It is a phenomenon that is often described as "luck", "coincidence", "fate" or "chance", and is the topic of this research. It was the subject of extensive research and writing by the psychotherapist Carl Jung who first used the word.
    “DR FONS TROMPENAARS AND $15,000”: reason for the study
    While much has been written about synchronicity in the personal domain, i.e. how it influences the choice of partner, location of a new residence, or indications of health, there is very little written about synchronicity in the leadership domain, which makes it a fertile area for research. This research finds that synchronicity does happen to leaders at work, but because of the fear of being judged as not credible, the voice of synchronicity is often silenced. 68 year old Philip Merry, a British global leadership consultant based in Singapore shines a light on this important issue. In 38 years of working with leaders in 59 countries, Philip has found that synchronicity has occurred to his clients and himself many times. One of the first times involved Dutch Professor Fons
    Trompenaars. Philip was in his Singapore office and realized that he needed $15,000 to balance his monthly budget. Within 15 minutes Dr. Trompenaars called him “out of the blue” asking him to stand in for a training in Beijing the following week which Dr. Trompenaars at the last minute could not attend. The project was worth $15,000. Dr. Trompenaars had no idea that Philip needed $15,000. Stories such as these happen often but go unreported, and this research seeks to explore this topic.
    A WORLD FIRST: research methods
    This is the world’s first ever study using grounded theory and appreciative inquiry to explore synchronicity and leadership. The research uses the Gioia approach (Gioia D. 2012) to conduct 2 fieldwork projects, one with a group of 18 international leaders, and the second with seven leaders from 3 continents (USA, Europe and Asia) comprising three women and four men. The research explores their experience of synchronicity, looking at the definition, process, business results and transformations that came from synchronistic events.
    JOINING THE DOTS: important conclusions
    Using field research with global leaders, a dynamic model of synchronicity was built identifying the flow of synchronicity from individual needs, to out of the blue events and the results they bring, to looking at the long term benefit of a life of synchronicity. The research joins the dots by bringing together psychology, quantum physics, heart coherence, biology, spirituality, complexity and adult education to identify writers, models or mentions of synchronicity that link to ideas generated in the field work. The main conclusion was that
    synchronicity did happen to leaders involved in this study and that it is a topic of worth of further study.
    PREVENTING CHERNOBYL: most important recommendations
    The benefits of synchronicity for leaders and their decisions are potentially far reaching. The fieldwork in this research shows that people ARE energetically connected, meaning that ideas and people can connect across distances and that synchronicity provides guidance and foreknowledge of events, which can help us plan more effectively for the future. For example many people living near the Chernobyl nuclear plant had dreams of nuclear disaster before the explosion happened: knowing this would have saved lives.
    Main recommendations include:
    1. Further research on synchronicity which would help leaders understand and work with the quantum mechanics view of the world which sees people as being energetically entangled.
    2. HeartMath research links heart coherence to synchronicity because of its ability to anticipate future events. This connection with synchronicity and heart should be further explored.
    3. Appreciative Inquiry was a methodology used in the research, which helped identify a potential new research approach called Synchronistic Inquiry (SI), which could help accelerate openness to synchronicity and so help leaders in their decision making. SI needs to be further developed.
    4. Space should be made for synchronicity exploration by supporting those individuals already researching synchronicity which are identified in the research.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • Tilburg University
    • Cooperrider, D.L., Promotor, External person
    • van Loon, Rens, Promotor
    • Rijsman, John, Promotor
    • Lambrechts, F., Member PhD commission
    • van Saane, J.W., Member PhD commission, External person
    • Wilderom, C.P.M., Member PhD commission
    • Szafir Holcman, E., Member PhD commission, External person
    Award date21 Dec 2017
    Place of PublicationS.l.
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


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