The ‘responsible’ part of Responsible Leadership (RL) is unique for its consideration of the roles organisations and external stakeholders play in leading. But the two are words seldom found alongside each other in contemporary Organisational Studies literature says Centre for Work, Organisation and Wellbeing guest, Professor Kevin B. Lowe (The University of Auckland, NZ).
RL he adds, is a concept about which a definition is also yet to emerge:
“Corporate Social Responsibility [CSR] and Sustainability research has run with the [RL] term, but there is little in their literature which focuses on its [impact on] the individual worker, nor its [operation] within the organisation. …There is no doubt [though that] the term is being picked up because it is a part of the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Management Education [PRME].”
Surmising the concept’s resonance with a variety of audiences, and a need for new multi-method research and theoretical underpinnings to balance out the literature (which currently plays on the reader’s heart, not head), Professor Lowe suggests the tenets of RL address the consequences of organisational conduct on all constituents, their influence on dialogue with (external) stakeholders, and their ability to foster collective action.
Considering what its end game may be, Kevin suggests that:
“…maybe it is absence of irresponsibility. … [But] Responsibility is both co-constructed and co-produced. We need evidence that [RL] matters. Researchers need to analyse it at different levels, identify the relationships in which it occurs and its internal spheres of influence.”