John Williams

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies


The purpose of this project is to determine what relationships, if any, exist between Zen Buddhism and modern conceptualizations of leadership. In a review of existing literature, no analysis was found that examined the relationship between concepts associated with leadership theory and Zen principles. Hence, in order to explore these issues, I employed the following basic procedure. First I identified a modern representation of theories of leadership. This step involved an examination of existing theories of leadership, and a survey in which the faculty at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond ranked a set of theories in terms of their contributions to contemporary leadership theory. From the results of this survey, I chose the top three theories for closer examination. The next step involved an examination of literature related to Zen. Before I attempted this portion of the project, I consulted Dr. Miranda Shaw, professor of religion at the University of Richmond, to obtain her assistance in summarizing the many principles of Zen philosophy into a parsimonious set. This resulted in the identification of five basic principles of Zen indicative of the philosophy as a whole,yet pertinent to leadership studies as well. Subsequently, I systematically applied each of the five principles of Zen philosophy to each of the three "modern" theories of leadership that were identified by the Jepson School faculty.