Responsible Leadership and the Reflective CEO: Resolving Stakeholder Conflict by Imagining What Could be done

Journal of Business Ethics 180 (1):313-337 (2022)
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In light of grand societal challenges, most recently the global Covid-19 pandemic, there is a call for research on responsible leadership. While significant advances have been made in recent years towards a better understanding of the concept, a gap exists in the understanding of responsible leadership in emerging countries, specifically how leaders resolve prevalent moral dilemmas. Following Werhane, we use moral imagination as an analytical approach to analyze a dilemmatic stakeholder conflict through the lense of different responsible leadership mindsets and in light of different ethical principles and moral background theories. Based on this analysis, we arrive at a tentative moral judgement, concluding that the instrumental approach is morally inferior and recommending the integrative approach as the morally superior choice. In the subsequent discussion—focussed on what “could” be done, we apply the integrative script and use moral imagination as a pathway for generating morally justifiable solutions. Through this analysis, we provide novel insights on how to apply an integrative responsible leadership approach to a stakeholder conflict situation, using the single case study to expand the responsible leadership discussion to emerging markets.



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