Responsible leadership: interweaving personal and public in pluralistic, contested space

Svenja Tams, J A Marshall

Research output: Chapter or section in a book/report/conference proceedingChapter in a published conference proceeding

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We examine the notion of responsible leadership. Consistent with the contextual ‘turn’ in mainstream leadership literature, we argue that theorising about responsible leadership needs to consider responsible business practices as
socially constructed and interpreted differently across individuals, organizations, institutional fields and the wider political, economic and socio-cultural context. We position responsible leadership with regards to discourses about ethical conduct, corporate responsibility (CSR), shared governance, the institutionalization of responsible business, and public debates about wider societal challenges – debates that are still emerging, inherently pluralistic
and contested. Based on a study of 34 individuals, we identify three responsible leadership practices: institutionalising, field shaping and engaging systemically. We discuss four case studies to show that these practices reflect individuals’ construction of self-in-the-world and their evolving understanding of how to
influence social systems. Findings show that individuals’ construction and enactment of responsible leadership interweaves personal, relational and wider systemic considerations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Next Generation of Responsible Leaders
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the First International Responsible Leadership Conference
Place of PublicationPretoria, South Africa
PublisherUniversity of Pretoria, Centre for Responsible Leadership
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 18 May 2010
EventFirst International Responsible Leadership Conference - University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa
Duration: 18 May 201020 May 2010


ConferenceFirst International Responsible Leadership Conference
Country/TerritorySouth Africa


  • Leadership
  • CSR


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