Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 85, Supplement 1, pp 59–71

Responsible Leaders as Agents of World Benefit: Learnings from “Project Ulysses”

Article

Abstract

There is widespread agreement in both business and society that MNCs have an enormous potential for contributing to the betterment of the world (WBCSD: 2006, From Challenge to Opportunity. in L. Timberlake (ed.), A paper from the Tomorrow’s Leaders Group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development). In␣fact, a discussion has evolved around the role of “Business as an Agent of World Benefit.”1 At the same time, there is also growing willingness among business leaders to spend time, expertise, and resources to help solve some of the most pressing problems in the world, such as global warming, poverty, HIV/AIDS, and other pandemic diseases. One example of business leaders engagement in citizenship activities is PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) leadership development program called “Project Ulysses” which we present and discuss in this article. Using a narrative approach we ask: “What can business leaders learn from selected Ulysses narratives for acting as agents of world benefit and with respect to engaging responsibly in the fight against some of the most pressing social problems at the local level?” Our contribution is organized as follows. We begin the article with a brief discussion on the role of business leaders in the fight against world’s social problems and address some areas of concern as to whether or not business leaders should play a role in fighting these global issues. We then introduce “Project Ulysses” which takes place in cross-sector partnership in developing countries. Following an overview of the research methodology we present four Ulysses narratives which tell us about learnings in the light of fundamental human problems, such as poverty and misery. Each story is analyzed with regard to the above question. We conclude the article by summarizing key lessons learned and some recommendations for business leaders as agents of world benefit.

Key words

responsible leadership leadership development talent development corporate citizenship corporate social responsibility business in society cross-sector partnerships Project Ulysses 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Boje, D. M. 2001. Narrative methods for organizational and communication research. London: SageGoogle Scholar
  2. Boss, J. A. 1994. The effect of community service work on the moral development of college ethics students. Journal of Moral Education, 23: 183–198CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Burrell, G., & Morgan, G. 1979. Sociological paradigms and organizational analysis. London: HeinemannGoogle Scholar
  4. Den Hartog, D. N. & Verburg, R. M. 1997. Charisma and rhetoric: Communication techniques of international business leaders. Leadership Quarterly, 8(4): 355–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Donaldson, T. 1996. Values in tension: Ethics away from home. Harvard Business Review, 74: 48–62Google Scholar
  6. Dumas, C. 2002. Community-based service-learning: Does It have a role in management education? International Journal of Value-Based Management, 15: 249–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Easterly, W. 2006. The white man’s burden: Why the west’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good. New York: The Penguin PressGoogle Scholar
  8. Eyler, J., & Giles, D. E. 1999. Where’s the learning in service-learning? San Francisco, CA: Jossey-BassGoogle Scholar
  9. Flanagan, J. C. 1954. The critical incident technique. Psychological Bulletin, 51: 327–358CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Fleckenstein, M. P. 1997. Service learning in business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(12/13): 1347–1351CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Freud, S. 1900. The interpretation of dreams. Vol. 4. Harmondsworth: PenguinGoogle Scholar
  12. Gabelnick, F. 1997. Educating a committed citizenry. Change, 29(1): 30–35Google Scholar
  13. Gabriel, Y. 2004. Narratives, stories and texts. In. Grant, D., Hardy, C., Oswick, C., & Utnam, L. (Eds.), Organizational discourse: 61–77. London: SageGoogle Scholar
  14. Godfrey, P. C., Illes, L. M., & Berry, G. R. 2005. Creating breadth in business education through service learning. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4: 309–323Google Scholar
  15. Harvey, A.: 2006, Autobiography as a Rhetoric: A Tale of Three Leaders. Paper presented at the sixty-sixth annual meeting of the Academy of Management, Atlanta, GAGoogle Scholar
  16. Held, D. 2005. Principles of Cosmopolitan Order. In G. Brock, & H. Brighouse (Eds.), The Political Philosophy of Cosmopolitanism: 10–27. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  17. Heron, J., & Reason, P. 2001. The practice of co-operative inquiry: Research ‹with’ rather than ‹on’ people. In P. Reason, & H. Bradbury (Eds.), Handbook of action research: 179–188. London: SageGoogle Scholar
  18. Kohler Riesman, C. 1993. Narrative analysis. Newbury Park, CA: SageGoogle Scholar
  19. Kolb, D. A.: 1984, Experiential Learning: Experience as the Source of Learning and Development (Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ)Google Scholar
  20. Kolenko, T. A., Porter, G., Wheatley, W., & Colby, M. 1996. A critique of service learning projects in management education: pedagogical foundations, barriers, and guidelines. Journal of Business Ethics, 15: 133–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Krippendorff, K. 1980. Content analysis: An introduction to its methodology. Newbury Park, CA: SageGoogle Scholar
  22. Labov, W. 1982. Speech actions and reactions in personal narrative. In D. Tannen (Ed.), Analyzing discourse: Text and talk: 219–247. Washington, DC: Georgetown University PressGoogle Scholar
  23. Lester, S. W., Tomkovick, C., Wells, T., Flunker, L., & Kickul, J. 2005. Does service-learning add value? Examining the perspectives of multiple stakeholders. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 4: 278–294Google Scholar
  24. Maak, T.: 2007, ‹Responsible Leadership, Stakeholder Engagement and the Emergence of Social Capital’, Journal of Business Ethics 74(4), 329–343Google Scholar
  25. Maak, T., & Pless, N. M. 2006a. Responsible Leadership: A Relational Approach. In T. Maak & N. M. Pless (Eds.), Responsible Leadership: 33–53. London, New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  26. Maak, T., & Pless, N. M. 2006b. Responsible Leadership in a Stakeholder Society. A Relational Perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 66: 99–115CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Markus, G. B., Howard, J., & King, D. 1993. Integrating community service and classroom instruction enhances learning: Results from an experiment. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 15: 410–419Google Scholar
  28. Morgan, G., & Smircich, L. 1980. The case for qualitative research. Academy of Management Review, 5: 491–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Morgan, W., & Streb, M. 1999. How quality service-learning develops civic values. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UniversityGoogle Scholar
  30. Norberg-Hodge, H. 1993. Leben in Ladakh. Freiburg: HerderGoogle Scholar
  31. O’Neill, O. 2004. Global Justice: Whose Obligations? In D.K. Chatterjee (Ed.) The Ethics of Assistance: Morality and the Distant Needy: 242–259. Cambridge: Cambridge University PressGoogle Scholar
  32. Pless, N.M. 2007. Understanding responsible leadership: Role identity and motivational drivers. Journal of Business Ethics, 74: 437–456CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pless, N. M., & Schneider, R. 2006. Towards developing responsible global leaders: The PwC Ulysses experience. In T. Maak, & N. M. Pless (Eds.), Responsible Leadership: 213–226. London, New York: RoutledgeGoogle Scholar
  34. Potter, J., & Wetherell, M. 1987. Discourse and social psychology. Newbury Park, CA: SageGoogle Scholar
  35. Sen, A. 1999. Development as Freedom. Oxford, New York: Oxford University PressGoogle Scholar
  36. United Nations: 2006, ‹UN Millennium Development␣Goals’, http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/. Accessed 27 June 2006
  37. United Nations: 2008, ‹The United Nations Study on Violence Against Children’, Available: http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/crc/study.htm. Accessed 3 January 2008
  38. Watzlawick, P., Weakland, J.H., & Fisch, R. 1988. Lösungen: Zur Theorie und Praxis menschlichen Wandels. Bern: HuberGoogle Scholar
  39. WBCSD: 2006, 'From Challenge to Opportunity', in L. Timberlake (ed.), A Paper from the Tomorrow’s Leaders Group of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development Google Scholar
  40. Weiss, R. S. 1995. Learning from strangers: The art and method of qualitative interview studies. New York, NY: The Free PressGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.INSEADFontainebleau CedexFrance
  2. 2.University of St. GallenSt. GallenSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations