Business, Nature, Value: Leadership of transitions to more sustainable ways of living and earning a living
Linked to our founding role in the One Planet MBA and One Planet Education Networks (a partnership with WWF international), we have conducted several projects at the intersection of value-creation (business), the constituents of life (nature) and what becomes practically and culturally precious (value). For example we conducted 8 case studies of how multi-national companies in China are innovating specifically to reduce their environmental footprint. This evolved into a focus on their supply chains, and gave rise to three articles in the Financial Times, two conference papers (for ISPIM), two refereed journal articles (Triflova et al 2013; Gosling et al 2015), 4 teaching cases (with Jia) and a book (Jia, Gosling & Witzel, 2015). A study of the impact of international companies on agricultural producers in Colombia, and the leadership of the interface between these local and international firms. This took a special focus on the dairy industry and may contribute to the peace-building process in than country. This is in collaboration with colleagues at Univerisdad de Los Andes, (especially Dr Ximena Rueda) supported by a Newton-Caldas grant 2015-2018.
Much of our thinking in this domain is brought together in Sustainable Business: a One Planet Approach, a co-edited text-book (Jeanrenaud, Jeanrenaud and Gosling 2017)
Leadership and management development
Drawing on over 30 years in the field, and many studies of the contribution made by various interventions in organisations ranging from formal management training to collective narrative processes. (Gosling 1996; Gosling and Mintzberg, 2002; 2003; 2004; Bolden, Gosling and Wood, 2005, Gosling & Case 2013b, Sutherland & Gosling 2015, Gosling & Sutherland 2016). Two 2-year research projects for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education produced numerous reports and articles (see references to Bolden, Gosling and Petrov; and Naidoo, Gosling et al 2014), and many insights into the tensions between administration and leadership of professional, knowledge-intensive organisations such as hospitals, professional services, and software firms. A collection of case-studies describing leadership development in health care organizations around the world was published as part of a KMPG/NHS report in mid-2016, and summaries of some of the case studies are published on this website.
Leading Continuity and Change
Sustaining the continuity of operations and, more importantly, of shared identity in organisations is crucial to contemporary organisations – in fact arguably advanced capitalism drives change at such a hectic pace that the most important and demanding work of management is to enable sufficient continuity for adaptations to be thought through and constructive, rather than reactive and defensive. Our early work in this area looked at conflict resolution processes (Gosling 1994a;1996; Linstead, Gosling et. al. 2004; Gosling and Case 2013a), and is now focused more directly on general leadership roles, and on partnership work – key to a wide range of issues including system-wide coordination of health services, flood defence schemes, cross-border disease control. A report for the Malaria Elimination Initiative of the UCSF Global Health Group (funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation) summarised Program management issues in implementation of malaria elimination strategies (2014) and together with a subsequent paper (Gosling et al. 2015) suggested specific managerial tools and training regimes. A subsequent action-research project applying the recommendations runs from summer 2016 in Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
Philosophical and psychoanalytic perspectives on leadership, wisdom and citizenship
Reflective analysis of the way we facilitated the British Airways MBA prompted the first of several studies of group dependency between leaders and facilitators (Gosling and Ashton, 1994; Gosling & Case, 2013b). Later work looking at community identity and leadership (Gosling 1996b) drew on attachment theory to link the psychoanalytic concept of ‘containment’ to classical concepts of ‘care of the self’. This builds on earlier work on Platonic influences on leadership theory (Gosling 1996a) and ideas about wisdom and knowledge (Case and Gosling, 2007; 2011; 2013a). A paper first presented in 2008 focuses on friendship and betrayal in leadership (French, Case and Gosling 2009), followed by subsequent chapters on shame and betrayal (Gosling, 2012); and on the aesthetics of power (Sutherland & Gosling, 2016).
Fundamental concepts of leadership
We have contributed substantial articles to encyclopaedias and handbooks on leadership and leadership development (Gosling and Case 2015, Gosling and Sutherland 2016). Wanting to explore alternatives to psychological constructs of leadership, we have also articulated alternatives drawn from analytic language philosophy (Marturano, Gosling and Wood, 2010; Gosling & Case, 2015).
Text books include ‘Leadership: The Key Concepts’ (Marturano and Gosling: Routledge 2008); Key Concepts of Leadership, (Gosling, Jones & Sutherland: Sage 2012); and Exploring Leadership: individual, organisational and social perspectives, (Bolden, Hawkins, Gosling & Taylor: OUP 2011). A critical-appreciative approach is exemplified in two books about historical leaders, both co-authored with Stephanie Jones: Nelson: leadership lessons from the great commander (2005) and Napoleonic Leadership: a study in power (2015). Both of these form the basis of popular and practical talks for people involved at the sharp end of leadership and power.