Responsible Leadership: A Mapping of Extant Research and Future Directions

Journal of Business Ethics 148 (1):117-134 (2018)

Recently, the increasing interest in responsible leadership (RL) has produced a research field rich in theoretical and conceptual potential, with diverse research foci, theoretical foundations, and methodological approaches. While these developments have demarcated the field from other leadership-oriented disciplines, they have equally courted fragmentation and ambiguity in terms of the field’s positioning within the greater body of leadership studies. To map the theoretical, methodological, and empirical state of the art of the RL field, we outline recent developments and delineate important research gaps and directions for future theory development and empirical research. We emphasize the transition of RL research from micro-level perspectives with normative roots to research spanning multiple levels of analysis, vis-à-vis both antecedents and outcomes. We discuss the implications of our mapping, highlighting the necessity of not only conceptualizing RL across multiple levels of analysis, but also to actively focus on interactions among RL antecedents and outcomes across these levels. Through these, we aim to contribute to the field by strengthening its conceptual foundations and anchoring it more clearly within leadership studies overall.
Keywords Responsible leadership  Corporate responsibility  Sustainability  Multiple levels of analysis  Research field development
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-015-2999-0
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