An Arts-Based Pedagogical Approach to Teach Emotional Intelligence:

Annual CBA Film Festival Program


Hakan Ozcelik
College of Business Administration
California State University, Sacramento


        A major drive for Annual CBA Film Festival program has been to address an emerging pedagogical need to improve our students’ ability to understand and analyze the leadership concepts, practices, and strategies from an emotionally intelligent lens. Since traditional pedagogical tools mostly rely on written texts, they do not lend themselves to analyze nonverbal cues and emotions, which play a major role in how leaders communicate with followers. These limitations create a pedagogical challenge to help students understand how leadership theories translate into day-to-day communication practices, and related felt and expressed emotions, in organizations. Myriad research, however, has established that emotions play a significant and systematic role in how employees and managers function in organizations (Barsade and Gibson, 2007) and a better understanding of these emotions is getting a necessity in management education (Bowen, 2014). We therefore pursed to an innovative strategy in our Human Resource Management curriculum to utilize visual tools and technology to bring interpersonal communication, nonverbal cues, and emotions more centrally and systematically into our senior undergraduate students' attention when they learn leadership theories, by drawing on an arts-based pedagogy.

Leading business schools worldwide have started employing an arts-based approach in their curriculum by utilizing methods from various artistic forms such as theater, dance, music, painting, and movies, in order to address the growing needs of organizations for more creative thinking in an increasingly complex global market (Adler, 2006). Utilizing arts-based methods help business students in creating, representing, conveying, and understanding organizational knowledge that arises from their sensory experience, which promotes creativity and innovative action (Bartunek and Carboni, 2006). Moreover, arts-based methods can enable students to apprehend the “essence” of a concept, theory, or tacit knowledge in a particular way, revealing depths and connections that more traditional learning processes cannot (Taylor and Ladkin, 2009).

Considering the challenges of learning emotional concepts, as discussed above, arts-based approach has proven to be a very suitable method to help students to analyze how leadership theories can be integrated with emotions. Because of the recently prevailing media trends such as YouTube, the young generation has become increasingly accustomed to creating and watching visual materials (Rea and Irwing, 2010). Thus, among different art forms, film-making has been one of the most suitable methods for our pedagogical purposes. Annual CBA Film Festival program has been a first step in the management education literature to facilitate students’ learning of leadership theories and emotions by utilizing an arts-based approach and film-making.     


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Barsade, S. G. & Gibson, D.E. (2007). Why do emotions matter in organizations? Academy of Management Perspectives, 21: 36-59.

Bartunek, J.M. and Carboni, I. (2006). A time for hope: Response to Adler. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5: 500 – 504.

Bowen, J.L. (2014). Emotion in organizations: Resources for business educators.  Journal of Management Education, 38(1): 114-142.

Rea, P.W., & Irwing, D.K.  (2010). Producing and directing the short film and video, 4th edition. Burlington, MA: Focal Press.

Taylor, S., & Ladkin, D. (2009). Understanding arts-based methods in managerial development. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 8 (1): 55-69.