LATROBE, PA – Dr. Michael Urick, associate professor of business and graduate director of Saint Vincent College’s Master of Science in Management: Operational Excellence program (MSMOE), has authored a new book entitled “A Manager’s Guide to Using the Force: Leadership Lessons from a Galaxy Far Far Away.”
Scheduled for release on April 13 and published by Emerald Publishing, the book is the inaugural installment of the “Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture” series, of which Urick serves as editor. The series aims to bring theories of leadership to life by analyzing academic concepts through popular culture examples that will appeal to a broad audience.
“By examining leadership theories through the context of popular culture,” said Urick, “these books encourage readers to think creatively about how they might adjust their own management approach.”
Urick, who frequently leverages popular culture to illustrate concepts in the classroom, believes that when studying leadership, it is imperative to first examine theories rather than case studies.
“Theories are important because they have been tested through academic research,” he said. “Those seeking to learn about leadership would be best served to start at the theoretical level rather than looking exclusively at case studies or examples of how leadership was implemented in a specific context. An academic exploration of leadership void of theoretical underpinning is problematic because it does not allow readers to truly understand what was or was not effective related to a leadership approach. I have found that using examples from popular culture is highly effective to understanding, and then applying, theory.”
In “A Manager’s Guide to Using the Force,” Urick examines management theories related to mentorship and learning, transformational and transactional leadership, ethical decision making, bases of power, mindfulness, multitasking and other related concepts. Each theory is viewed through the lens of the “Jedi" approach to learning. The Jedi are a fictional group of characters from the popular "Star Wars" series of films, shows, games, comics and other media.
“Through these examples, readers will become familiar and comfortable with academically supported leadership concepts to adjust their own behaviors as they develop their own leadership ability,” Urick explained.
Urick believes that there are several benefits to illustrating theories with popular culture.
“One reason,” he said, “is that such an approach is fun and memorable. Another is that people learn from, relate to and mirror behavior from popular culture, perhaps even more so than traditional organization case-based approaches prevalent in many other leadership books. Additionally, popular culture might help readers reflect on how they could adapt the demonstrated leadership styles to their own contexts.”
“A Manager’s Guide to Using the Force: Leadership Lessons from a Galaxy Far Far Away” is the second book authored by Urick, after his 2019 release “The Generation Myth: How to Improve Intergenerational Relationships in the Workplace,” published by Business Expert Press. His next book, which will be the second installment in the “Exploring Effective Leadership Practices through Popular Culture” series, is entitled “Leadership in the Middle-earth: Theories and Applications for Organizations” and is scheduled for publication in May. He is also under contract for a fourth book through Emerald Publishing, and is in the process of developing an additional book, as well. In 2018, Urick co-edited a three-book series on leadership published in Poland, while he regularly speaks at organizations and events on issues related to leadership
A 2004 Saint Vincent College graduate, Urick holds an M.B.A. and Master of Science in Leadership/Business Ethics from Duquesne University. He went on to earn a Ph.D., focused on organizational behavior, from the University of Cincinnati. He joined the Saint Vincent College faculty in 2012 and has directed its nationally ranked MSMOE program since 2014. Urick is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, including Learning/Education Person of the Year from the Institute of Supply Management and the Excellence in Teaching award from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Founded in 1967, Emerald Publishing is a scholarly publisher of academic journals and books in the fields of management, business, education, library studies, health care and engineering. Named publisher of the year in 2020 by IPG, it is headquartered in the English town of Bingley. Its emphasis is on curating, commissioning and showcasing research that can make a real difference. Emerald works with more than 500,000 researchers spread over thousands of universities spread over 130 countries to share knowledge and provide debates that lead to positive change. Emerald’s readership includes more than 30 million electronic downloads of publications each year.
PHOTO 1: Cover of “A Manager’s Guide to Using the Force: Leadership Lessons from a Galaxy Far Far Away"
PHOTO 2: Dr. Michael Urick