Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Restricted Access (SIA Only)

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Art Business

First Advisor

Eric Wolf


Art has significant power in influencing emotions and feelings of human beings, which underpin many complicated but critical competencies like leadership. Therefore, art should be further utilized to make greater influence in developing leadership, not only of decision makers, but also of individual participants in all collaborative relationships. However, there has been very limited studies in the field, and successful business cases are also very rare. This thesis aims to contribute to the field of integrating art to leadership development, by answering two questions: 1) why art, particularly visual art, is powerful in leadership development; 2) how visual art could be applied in leadership development in effective ways. Three leadership competencies, i.e. self-awareness, conversation and creativity, are among the core competencies that support the overall leadership skills, and thus are covered in this study.

In answering the first question: why art, specifically visual art, is powerful in leadership development, discoveries from brain science and philosophies are studied. And the three selected leadership traits are examined one by one in answering this question. Visual art could increase self-awareness, which in turn may bring about better behaviors of leaders. Among visual art, figurative art is especially effective in building effective conversation. And abstract art makes great difference in developing creativity. The second question is: how visual art could be applied in leadership development in effective ways. To answer this question, three typical cases from public sector, academic institute, and private sector will be reviewed in the first place. And based on the case studies, constructive recommendations covering five areas will be given to the further development of the field.