Responsible Leadership and the Political Role of Global Business
University of Zurich, Department of Business Administration, UZH Business Working Paper No. 307.
54 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2012 Last revised: 5 Feb 2014
Date Written: August 2013
Globally responsible leadership is conceived as the normatively appropriate conduct of business leaders in response to the ethical challenges that multinational corporations have to deal with in the context of their global business operations. The paper argues that existing approaches to responsible leadership research neglect the ethical implications of globalization and the conditions of the current ‘post-national constellation’ (Habermas) in international relations. We review critically the existing concepts of responsible leadership and point to the normative vacuity, justification gaps, and the implementation challenges regarding these concepts. In order to address these issues, we propose a new approach to responsible leadership in global business based on Habermas’s idea of democratic deliberation. This concept provides leadership with a normative orientation when facing complex and heterogeneous business and stakeholder demands. Finally, we discuss how responsible leaders can remain capable of producing morally legitimate decisions within the factual constraints of global business.
Keywords: leadership ethics, business ethics, responsible leadership, political theory, political CSR
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