A selection of interesting research and articles we found recently.

Role of Chief Sustainability Officers in top management teams
Robert Strand notes that strategic leadership and corporate sustainability have recently come together through the emergence of “Chief Sustainability Officer” (CSO) roles in top management teams (TMT) among large corporations. These positions have dedicated corporate sustainability responsibilities. Strand explores the CSO phenomenon by considering two questions: Why are corporate sustainability positions being installed to the TMT? What effects do corporate sustainability TMT positions have in their organisations?

Strand suggests that CSO positions are installed in TMTs in response to a crisis at the corporation for which its legitimacy is challenged; as well as being proactively installed to take advantage of unrealized external opportunities. CSOs can coordinate bureaucratic structures dedicated to driving the firm’s corporate sustainability using formalized processes and key performance indicators. An interesting finding is that many CSO positions in the TMT that were only recently established are being abolished.

Robert Strand, 2014. Strategic Leadership of Corporate Sustainability.
Journal of Business Ethics, 123(4), 687-706.


How do MNCs develop their sustainable development strategies?
Jo Rhodes , Bruce Bergstrom , Peter Lok and Vincent Cheng set out to determine key factors and processes that multinational companies (MNCs) use in developing an effective stakeholder engagement and sustainable development (SD) framework.  Adopting a qualitative multiple-case approach with interviews, archival documents and observations, the researchers collected data on three global firms (MNCs), and interviewed three senior executives in each firm. A comparison of findings from interview data, archival data, factors, themes and cross case comparison were used to develop the final conceptual framework.

Results suggest that stakeholder engagement is a key mediator between “stakeholder network” (internal and external factors) and outcomes (corporate social responsibility, social capital, shared value and SD). Internal factors such as human capital/talent, technology, culture, leadership and processes such as collaboration, knowledge sharing and co-creation of value with stakeholders were identified. These internal factors and processes must be integrated and aligned with external factors such as social, political, cultural, environment and NGOs to achieve effective stakeholder engagement.

Read the original article at: Jo Rhodes, Bruce Bergstrom, Peter Lok and Vincent Cheng. 2014. A framework for stakeholder engagement and sustainable development in MNCs.
Journal of Global Responsibility, 5(1), 82-103.


Is ethical leadership associated with group ethical voice?
This paper coins a new outcome for ethical leadership, which authors Lei Huang and Ted Paterson call “group ethical voice”. Using 2 field studies and an experimental study, the researchers found that ethical leadership is positively associated with group ethical voice. Furthermore, group ethical voice positively influenced ethical performance, which was significant for sales groups and marginally significant for customer service groups. Mediating mechanisms (ethical culture and group ethical voice efficacy) that were proposed as links between ethical leadership and group ethical voice were supported, apart from the indirect effect of upper-level ethical leadership on group ethical voice via group ethical voice efficacy.

Read more about this study and its contributions to the ethical leadership and ethical voice literatures in Lei Huang and Ted A. Paterson. 2014. Group Ethical Voice: Influence of Ethical Leadership and Impact on Ethical Performance.
Journal of Management, published online August 18, 2014, doi 10.1177/0149206314546195.


Is the relationship between ethics and leadership illusory?
Michael Levine and Jacqueline Boaks examine some of the ways in which the relationship between leadership and ethics is misconstrued and question the assumptions that link ethics and leadership. Among various other myths and biases surrounding ethics and leaders, the authors question the common thethe assumption that a leader’s good character is necessary and sufficient for leadership. Levine and Boaks argue that any adequate account of leadership must, at the very least, differentiate between leadership and good ethical character; as well as between leadership and power, authority, influence, managerial ability, and charisma. The authors ask whether we should think of leadership as an Aristotelian virtue in trying to arrive at a more accurate and useful account of the connection between leadership and ethics.

Delve deeper into this article at: Michael P. Levine and Jacqueline Boaks. 2014. What Does Ethics Have to do with Leadership?
Journal of Business Ethics, 124 (2), 225-242.


Reconciling different views on responsible leadership
Christof Miska, Christian Hilbe and Susanne Mayer note that although business leaders are increasingly responsible for the societal and environmental impacts of their actions, conceptualisations, definitions and theories relating to responsible leadership differ. The authors seek to reconcile these diverse views and understand the phenomenon from a business leader’s point of view. A formal mathematical model of responsible leadership is proposed that considers different types of incentives for stakeholder engagement.

Results show that non-monetary and non-instrumental incentives, such as leaders’ values and authenticity, as well as their planning horizons, counterbalance pure monetary and instrumental orientations. This makes monetary and instrumental incentives neither necessary nor sufficient for business leaders to consider societal and environmental stakeholder needs. The authors suggest that their model complements the growing body of research on responsible leadership in two ways: it reconciles diverse conceptual views and provides a basis for future theory development and testing.

For further details, see: Christof Miska, Christian Hilbe and Susanne Mayer. 2014. Reconciling Different Views on Responsible Leadership: A Rationality-Based Approach.
Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 349-360.