A critical hermeneutic approach to Hmong leadership in the Lao PDR: Horizons of forgiveness and action through imagination in community development
The field of leadership study has received extensive academic exploration however little has been written on the topic of Hmong leadership. Using the approach advocated by Herda's (1999, 2007) description of critical hermeneutic interpretative participatory inquiry and Ricoeur's (1981, 1984, 1985, 1988, 1992, 2004, 2007) theories of mimesis, forgiveness and action through imagination as the conceptual framework, this research explored Hmong leadership in Lao PDR and the implications for community development.
The Hmong people of the Lao People's Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) presently live in a difficult political and economic climate that is informed by a long history of exclusion within a nation that has experienced extreme turmoil over both the recent and extended past. This situation calls for appropriate action and ethical leadership on the part of the Hmong who can develop and communicate a shared vision of hope for the future. I examined the narratives of Hmong leaders in Lao PDR, considering both their interpretation of the past and their aspirations for the future, in order to better understand the present opportunities and challenges facing the Hmong community. This examination is critical, for a dark historical past conflict continues to overshadow the livelihood of the Hmong in Lao PDR.
Research conversations with Hmong leaders in Lao PDR through shared narratives created transcribed texts for interpretation. It is through the interpretation of texts that Hmong leaders may come to understand, in Ricoeurian terms, their prefigured world and imagine a refigured world through a reflection of a configured world. Through this research Hmong leaders have been given voice to their stories of the past, present, and future. Through this process, new understandings have emerged, opening possibilities for Hmong leadership that includes encouraging the establishment of new relationships among Hmong leaders themselves as well as their relationships with the other as they are involved in the country's policies and community development activities. Furthermore, Hmong leaders' horizon of forgiveness and their acts of forgiveness toward the others—Hmong and Lao nation—is one of the significant keys to the successful leadership on the part of both the Hmong and the Lao leaders. Importantly, Hmong leaders in Lao PDR may find it is paramount for Hmong to initiate and show acts of forgiveness amongst each other.
The significance of this research study sheds light on the barriers Hmong leaders are facing under Lao PDR's political climate and how they may assist the government guide the country's future. The revealing of Hmong leaders' stories untied the bound of the past hurt and gave the Hmong their own voice to speak of an imaginable future Leaders in Lao PDR (Hmong, Lao and other ethnic groups) may find through discourse and a sharing of their narratives a new way of thinking about leadership that may be developed and shared among the diverse communities in Lao PDR which, in turn, may contribute to the development of new policies that are designed to benefit developmental goals of the Lao nation.
0635: Organization Theory
0703: Organizational behavior