Creative Minds of Leaders in Psychobiographical Perspectives: Exploring the Life and Work of Christiaan Barnard and Angela Merkel

  • Claude-Hélène Mayer
  • Roelf van Niekerk
Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


Creativity changes over the lifespan. Therefore, creative thinking should be investigated at different life stages and in different contexts. In this chapter, the careers of two exceptionally creative leaders are explored. The investigation is based on a comparative, longitudinal, psychobiographical case study design and employed a purposive sampling method to select the participants. The aim of psychobiographical case studies is to describe and interpret the contributions of exceptional individuals. Psychobiographical case studies provide a valuable method to further application and refinement of psychological theories. This study explored the manifestation of creativity in the life histories of the cardiac surgeon and medical pioneer, Christiaan Barnard, and the politician and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. The data included both primary and secondary documentary data. The data analysis strategy proposed by Irving Alexander was used to interpret the data according to Robert Sternberg’s WICS model. To maintain ethical standards, the authors were guided by respect, empathy, and accountability in dealing with the documentary data. The investigation demonstrates the interplay of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity during the careers of extraordinary individuals.


Creativity Leadership WICS Psychobiography Comparative case study 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claude-Hélène Mayer
    • 1
    • 2
  • Roelf van Niekerk
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Industrial Psychology and People ManagementUniversity of JohannesburgJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Institut für Therapeutische Kommunikation, Europa-Universität ViadrinaFrankfurt (Oder)Germany
  3. 3.Industrial and Organisational PsychologyNelson Mandela UniversityPort ElizabethSouth Africa

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