Tuesday 6
Deconstructing leadership & social capital
Samantha Stone Jovicich
› 17:10 - 18:10 (1h)
› JOFFRE 5
Deconstructing leadership: the people and processes driving change
Louisa Evans  1, 2@  , Christina Hicks  3, 4@  , Philippa Cohen  5@  , Peter Case  6, 7@  , Murray Prideaux  6@  , David Mills  5@  
1 : ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
James Cook University Townsville Queensland 4811 -  Australie
2 : Exeter University
3 : ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies
4 : Stanford University
5 : WorldFish
6 : Business School, James Cook University
7 : Business School, University of Bristol

Leaders or leadership are identified as central factors in initiating and steering adaptation and transformation of environmental governance systems. In conceptualizing and analyzing leadership resilience thinkers have borrowed extensively from the mainstream leadership literature of the management sciences. This mainstream thinking is rooted in a positivist epistemology and typically focuses on Western corporate culture and the attributes of individual leaders – Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Richard Branson. This is seemingly mirrored in the resilience literature where individual champions of change are emphasized –Virginia Chadwick (Great Barrier Reef), President Yudhoyono (Coral Triangle Initiative), Buzz Holling (Resilience Alliance). To investigate how leadership is understood in the resilience sciences we undertook a systematic review of published research. We found that the concept of leadership is rarely defined yet widely depicted as an unequivocal good. Its importance is often asserted or over-generalised. For example, many analyses document the presence or absence of a formal leader but project positive qualities onto this individual, such as ‘strong' and ‘committed', and assume a priori that this individual's commitment is to environmental sustainability. Our findings suggest an opportunity to offer a more critical conceptualization of leadership in resilience science.

An alternative discourse on leadership is emerging in the field of leadership studies. In brief, this ‘critical turn' deconstructs the notion of the ‘heroic' individual leader to emphasise leadership as a culturally embedded, socially-constructed process or set of practices that is not unequivocally good. Keith Grint, a notable leadership scholar, offers a detailed heuristic to explain the different possible framings of leadership. We use this framework to discuss leadership as person; position; process; result, and; purpose. We situate our discussion within the discourse on integrated conservation and development to highlight the complexities of initiating and steering adaptation and transformation in social-ecological system governance, which aims for multiple societal objectives. For instance, reflecting leadership as person, Rosen and Olsson (2013) identify over fifty institutional entrepreneurs involved behind-the-scenes in negotiating the objectives of the Coral Triangle Initiative with a heavy bias towards conservation aims; Njaya et al., (2012) document the conflicts between traditional and contemporary positions of leadership in emerging fisheries co-management arrangements, and; when we look at leadership processes in developing country contexts we find highly variable balances of power between leaders and followers in integrated conservation and development projects.

We will present the key findings of our systematic literature review and offer a more critical perspective on leadership using Grint's leadership heuristic. This presentation is stand-alone but complements that submitted by Philippa Cohen* in which we test a new approach to empirical research on leadership in the context of ‘transformative' integrated conservation and development in the Solomon Islands.

* Cohen et al: The role of leadership in navigating change and driving transformation in environmental governance – a case study from Solomon Islands 


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