The Centre for Responsible Leadership 1st International Conference Announcement

Posted on October 01, 2009

The looming global economic crisis is not the first one of its kind but it certainly is one of the most profound in history. What most economists, commentators, academics and world leaders seem to agree on is that we’re in this crisis for the long haul. In fact, the hype around the financial crisis has been overwhelming. Comments and questions ranging from “Is this the end…?; “global economic meltdown”…to “is this the final world recession that will bring capitalism in its current form to its knees” ….are omnipresent. Yet, it seems important to note that the world is also facing persistent social and environmental crises. Climate change and pressing public problems such as hunger, poverty, and diseases such as HIV/Aids or Malaria are daily realities for the better part of the world population. And while the concern and actions taken to deal with the global economic crisis have been coordinated, orchestrated and have born common interest in mind, the same cannot be said for the way world leaders have been dealing with the environmental and social crisis the world has been facing with increasing intensity the past two decades.

The irony quite simply, is that the economic crisis (hopefully) has an “expiry date” whereas the environmental and social challenges the world is facing are open ended….

Clearly, what is needed in light of the profound challenges the world is facing are leaders in both business and society who are able to tackle these pressing public problems, who are engaging in sustainable business practices and are willing to contribute to the global common good. Unfortunately much of what we find in terms of concepts and qualities defining good leadership seem to be outdated and irrelevant. The “shortermism” mindset mirrors quick returns whereas the more “longtermism” represents an approach which celebrates a more sustainable mindset, societal progress and planetary well-being. The next generation responsible leaders therefore need to be able to re-define the boundaries of a new world view which epitomises responsiveness, relevance and responsibility.

Corporations are made up of multiple stakeholders and can therefore never be static entities. Corporations are the conduits of society, having the responsibility to harness human, monetary, environmental and social capital in the best interest of the planet. Corporations are living entities and the very leaders keeping them alive are the ones that have led to a global moral deficit.

The question begging to be answered is whether the next generation leaders have the ability to shape new principles for the role of business in society, place a high emphasis on ethical fitness, believe in corporate “statesmanship” and stewardship and critically reflect on the purpose of business. Scholars in responsible leadership (e.g. Doh & Stumpf, 2005; Maak & Pless, 2006; Waldman & Galvin, 2008) emphasize the importance of balanced morality; ensuring sustainable businesses without compromising the natural environment and the livelihood of future generations.

Local and international scholars, practitioners and agencies in the field of responsible leadership, corporate citizenship, corporate governance, corporate responsibility and sustainable development are invited to submit contributions preferably to one the following sub-themes:

  • Leadership and society
  • Responsible leadership
  • Leadership and ethics
  • Leadership for social impact
  • Leadership for sustainable futures
  • Responsible leadership and governance
  • Developing responsible leadership – and responsible leaders


    Attributes of responsible leaders

  • Confirmed key-note speakers:

    1. Prof Pierre Tapie: President Essec Business School France and Chairman of the Globally Responsible Leadership Initiative
    2. Prof Nicola Pless: Associate Professor Esade


    Responsible leadership and stakeholder engagement
  • Paradigmatic foundations of responsible leadership
  • Critical analyses of existing leadership concepts and paradigm
  • Context of responsible leadership
  • Responsible leadership in different and across sectors
  • Responsible leadership across cultures
  • Responsible business and measurement practices

The theme of the conference is “Developing the next generation responsible leaders”. The theme is broad enough to include papers and presentations from academia, practitioners; representing private, public and civil society sectors. Although presented in South Africa, the focus would include international perspectives and contributions. The format of the conference will include full length papers, workshops, panel discussions, poster presentations, case studies and a PhD colloquium.

Selected papers are eligible for consideration for a special issue of the Journal of Business Ethics (JBE), entitled “Responsible Leadership”, edited by Nicola M. Pless (ESADE Business School, University Ramon Llull), Derick de Jongh (University of Pretoria) and Thomas Maak (ESADE Business School and University of St. Gallen) to be published in Spring 2011. Please indicate if you want your paper to be considered for the Special Issue and note that only fully developed papers are to be included in the review process. More information on the Special Issue can be found in the separate call for papers which you find on our website:


Abstracts of papers (max. 500 words) can be submitted to the conference organizer, Jo-Anne Adams-Underhill ([email protected]). They should be submitted electronically (by e‑mail), in RTF/MSWord format as file attachments (not as part of the message)

Deadline for abstract proposals:

Friday 30 October 2009


All full paper submissions will go through a double-blind peer review process. Therefore, all author-identifying information should be removed from the paper except for a cover page. We advise all non-native speakers to have their papers checked by a native speaker before submission. Papers should be no longer than 35 pages (double-spaced) including tables, graphs, references and endnotes. The formatting of the paper has to follow the guidelines of the Journal of Business Ethics.

Please submit your full paper to the conference organiser, Jo-Anne at [email protected].

If you want your paper to be considered for the Special Issue of the JBE please indicate this on the paper and also send a copy to Nicola Pless ([email protected])

Deadline for full paper submission:

Friday 2 April 2010


October 30, 2009: Deadline for abstracts of 500 words, to be submitted to Jo-Anne at [email protected]

January 4, 2010: Notification of acceptance of paper proposals

April 2, 2010: Full papers to be submitted to Jo-Anne and if you want the paper to be considered for the Special Issue of the JBE then also to Nicola Pless ([email protected]).

Please check our website ( for up-to-date information on deadlines and procedures. 


Any further queries can be addressed to:

Jo-Anne Adams-Underhill

E-mail: [email protected]

Tel: +27 12 420 4271

Cell: +27 84 929 0170

Fax: +27 86 546 9360

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