Different approaches toward doing the right thing: Mapping the responsibility orientations of leaders

Nicola M. Pless, Thomas Maak, David Waldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Scopus citations


Responsible leadership is a concept that can help link corporate social responsibility and performance to actions on the part of policy makers and leaders. It may also help to provide a better understanding of the deteriorating reputations of firms and their leaders as perceived by society as a whole and of what might be required from leaders to strengthen the bonds with society. However, the precise manner in which leaders interpret and actually display responsibility is not altogether clear. This lack of clarity coincides with the varying perspectives of responsible leadership that occur in the literature, and it may contribute to the lack of systematic research on how such leadership may ultimately affect firm- and societal-level outcomes. Based on a qualitative analysis of 25 business leaders and entrepreneurs, we identify four orientations that leaders may use to demonstrate responsibility and implement corporate social responsibility. We show how these orientations vary according to the breadth of constituent group focus and the degree of accountability toward others. Further, we discuss both research and training implications associated with the different responsible leadership orientations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)51-65
Number of pages15
JournalAcademy of Management Perspectives
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 1 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


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