Leading with Aesthetics
The Transformational Leadership of Charles M. Vest at MIT
By (author) Mahesh Daas
Publication date:16 July 2015
Length of book:194 pages
Leading with Aesthetics: The Transformational Leadership of Charles M. Vest at MIT examines the role of aesthetics, design, and architecture in organizational transformation and leadership, particularly in the context of academic institutions. Leadership has been thus far predominantly examined from the perspective of function (performance) and position in the organizational structure (such as a CEO or a president). Relatively little work has been done in studying leadership of academic institutions, let alone from the perspective of aesthetics, both of which this book aims to rectify. Although aesthetic dimension is important in any organizational context, it is particularly important for academic institutions. Leading with aesthetics would empower leaders in any organizational setting. Daas examines the aesthetic dimension of transformational leadership through an eclectic blend of lenses drawn from the fields of architecture, political science, organizational aesthetics, and organizational psychoanalysis. A detailed case study of the leadership of Charles Marstiller Vest (1941–2013), who served as the president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology for fourteen years between 1990 and 2004, illustrates the importance of the aesthetic dimension in leadership and organizational change.
Leading with Aesthetics is a tour de force of interdisciplinary scholarship, citing a remarkably wide variety of sources and plumbing multiple subjects with significant depth. The result is a very satisfying, multi-dimensional, multi-faceted exegesis of a topic that indeed seems to have been given too little consideration in scholarly and actual evaluations of institutional leadership.