We understand responsible leadership as a social-relational and ethical phenomenon, which occurs in social processes of interaction. While the prevailing leadership literature has for the most part focussed on the relationship between leaders and followers in the organization and defined followers as subordinates, we show in this article that leadership takes place in interaction with a multitude of followers as stakeholders inside and outside the corporation. Using an ethical lens, we discuss leadership responsibilities in a stakeholder society, thereby following Bass (...) and Steidelmeier’s suggestion to discuss “leadership in the context of contemporary stakeholder theory” (1999: 200). Moreover, from a relational and stakeholder perspective we approach the questions: What is responsible leadership? What makes a responsible leader? What qualities are needed? Finally, we propose a so-called “roles model” of responsible leadership, which gives a gestalt to a responsible leader and describes the different roles he or she takes in leading stakeholders and business in society. (shrink)
As the world is getting increasingly connected and interdependent it becomes clear that the world’s most pressing public problems such as poverty or global warming call for cross-sector solutions. The paper discusses the idea of business leaders acting as agents of world benefit, taking an active co-responsibility in generating solutions to problems. It argues that we need responsible global leaders who are aware of the pressing problems in the world, care for the needs of others, aspire to make this world (...) a better place, and act in word and deed as global and responsible citizens. The argument is structured as follows: first, in highlighting some leadership challenges we discuss why it takes a responsible, global, and ultimately cosmopolitan mindset to enhance human values on a global scale. Second, we define more specifically responsible global leadership and the (potential) role of business leaders acting as agents of world benefit. Third, drawing on latest research on cosmopolitanism, we discuss the hallmarks of contemporary cosmopolitanism. Fourth, and concluding our argument, we propose key cosmopolitan business principles to help leaders build a more inclusive world. (shrink)
This article maps current thinking in the emerging field of responsible leadership. Various environmental and social forces have triggered interest in both research and practices of responsible leadership. This article outlines the main features of the relevant research, specifies a definition of the concept, and compares this emergent understanding of responsible leadership with related leadership theories. Finally, an overview of different articles in this special issue sketches some pathways for ongoing research.
This article contributes to the emerging discussion on responsible leadership by providing an analysis of the inner theatre of a responsible leader. I use a narrative approach for analyzing the biography of Anita Roddick as a widely acknowledged prototype of a responsible leader. With clinical and normative lenses I explore the relationship between responsible leadership behavior and the underlying motivational systems. I begin the article with an introduction outlining the current state of responsible leadership research and explaining the kind of (...) magnifying glasses used to examine the case. I continue with a brief summary of Anita Roddick’s development from childhood to adulthood, which provides the biographical background for exploring her motivational systems as a leader. Against this backdrop, I analyze the relationship between motivational drivers and a responsible leadership identity as revealed by Roddick in different behavioral leadership roles. I conclude the article by providing a number of lessons learned for responsible leadership and the development of future global leaders. (shrink)
This symposium contributes to the broader discussion about humanism in management and organizational well-being. Dignity plays a crucial role as both a fundamental value and as an end state in the process of humanizing organizational cultures, workplaces and relationships. However, despite its significance, it has yet to be addressed properly in the growing discourse on humanistic capitalism and management, and indeed in business ethics as a whole. This symposium seeks to inform and inspire emerging research and approaches towards human dignity (...) through the lens of artistic expression and explores how arts may promote human dignity in organizational life. (shrink)
The article discusses the role of the UN Global Compact in the emerging global corporate social responsibility infrastructure. It evaluates the debate around the effectiveness and legitimacy of the UNGC alongside the arguments of its supporters and critics and thereby introduces the Thematic Symposium contributions. The article further identifies three theoretical perspectives that are used by scholars to discuss the performance of the UNGC: economic, socio-historical, and normative. It proposes that these perspectives can serve as generic distinctions with direct relevance (...) for the evaluation of the UNGC. Once the perspective is chosen, it drives towards a certain purpose which implies assumptions and design features with regard to the UNGC. Finally, the article offers a future research agenda, emphasising the research needed on the UNGC in four areas: the identification of processes and influence mechanisms; legitimacy and effectiveness; local networks and regional development; and the interface of the UNGC and responsible leadership. (shrink)
This case study investigates Gram Vikas' innovative social entrepreneurial approach to sustainable rural development through its 'Water and Sanitation Programme'. We explore its key innovation of 100 % inclusion and the process of creating democratic, self-governing management systems. This allows us to demonstrate how a social enterprise tries to realize its vision of "an equitable and sustainable society where people live in peace with dignity", and ultimately, how it contributes to the United Nations Millennium Goals of improving health, empowering women (...) and breaking the vicious circle of poverty. We also discuss the management challenges that the organisation faces in the area of finance, personnel management and scaling up. (shrink)
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. (shrink)